Silly and playful alphabet fun.

MY PET FEET

What would a world without R’s look like?

When a brown-skinned child awakens, they greet their pet feet, Doodles, who’s in apparent distress. Wait. Pet feet? This is all wrong! Something is missing, but the young narrator cannot immediately identify what it is. A glance at the alphabet artwork on the bedroom wall reveals a telltale gap. Readers in the know will quickly identify the missing letter R; the stolen letter no longer exists in this world. The child decides to hunt down the missing letter but must dodge silly obstacles of R-less mayhem along the way. The child seeks the help of a friend, but without the R finds a fiend in his place. Flying cows (crows with bovine bodies) attack. Then Doodles runs away, or rather is leading the way to the R thieves! Featuring delicious wordplay, this tale hits all the right notes for early primary audiences; parents and educators will appreciate this engaging story’s many opportunities to build phonemic awareness and letter knowledge among early readers and writers. Depicting wide-eyed characters and busy scenes bursting with sight gags, the digital illustrations also provide many opportunities to explore the impact of an R-less world. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Silly and playful alphabet fun. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-8600-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...

GRUMPY MONKEY

It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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Hee haw.

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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