An enjoyable crafty excursion.

IF YOU WANT TO KNIT SOME MITTENS

Colorful mittens require 18 steps of preparation, but they are a toasty warm reward.

A redheaded, pale-skinned, freckled kid and an older, bearded figure with the same coloring are at an apple stand when the kid spots a sheep—and home they all go in their pickup truck. The sheep spends the winter in a cozy red barn with a pig and a hen, playing games and snuggling under a blanket. Spring brings a shearing, followed by cleaning, carding, and spinning. By now the process for crafting a pair of mittens is up to step No. 8, which is selecting a color to dye the yarn. This requires planting and tending marigolds, the chosen color source. And this requires a long wait. Dyeing the wool, knitting the mittens, and enjoying the winter are the very enjoyable results. The sprightly, colorful illustrations portray a smiley kid and equally happy animal friends who sip drinks, jump rope, and go downhill skiing and sledding. (There is a disclaimer on the copyright page concerning any injuries that might occur should readers try this with their own sheep.) The notably helpful sheep at the end sports its own matching hat, complete with pompom. While the actual knitting is confined to a couple sentences, the author does show that the sheep-to-mittens hands-on process involves many steps. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An enjoyable crafty excursion. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62979-564-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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