Donut expect this to pass young audiences without causing a sprinkle of giggles.

HELLO, ARNIE!

From the Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut series

A new arrival forces Arnie the doughnut to think outside the pastry rack.

Kicking off another exciting day at the bakery, Arnie exuberantly greets every other mouthwatering treat by name—“Hi, Plain! Hey, Long John! Top of the morning, Jelly!”—until he breaks the fourth wall by looking up from the page: “AHHHH!!! You’re…the biggest doughnut…I’ve ever seen!” But what kind of doughnut? Arnie goes about methodically gathering clues: “1. You’re not round. 2. You don’t have filling coming out of your head. 3. You don’t have a hole in the middle. 4. You don’t have frosting or sprinkles.” Arnie ultimately arrives at a stunning insight. “I’m starting to think you’re NOT a giant doughnut.” Mind blown, his pop eyes turning into big spirals in Keller’s high-calorie cartoons, the gooey gumshoe blurts out the obvious conclusion: “You’re a GIANT COOKIE!” Would that all newcomers, to school or elsewhere, whatever their differences, received the same warm collective welcome Arnie and his fellow baked goods thereupon offer in the luscious climactic spread. Readers of Arnie’s eponymous 2003 debut or his chapter-book outings in Bowling Alley Bandit (2013) and its sequels may be disoriented to find him back in the doughnut case and without human pal Mr. Bing or chip companion Peezo, but that doesn’t make the spirit of this offering any less sweet. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 56.3% of actual size.)

Donut expect this to pass young audiences without causing a sprinkle of giggles. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-10724-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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In what seems like a veritable golden age of beginning readers, perhaps some things are better not published. Or read.

WEDGIEMAN

A HERO IS BORN

From the Adventures of Wedgieman series , Vol. 1

Captain Underpants he ain’t.

Although some may initially associate Harper and Shea’s beginning reader with Pilkey’s popular series, it falls short with a thin story and none of the master's clever sense of subversive, ribald humor. The titular hero starts as Veggiebaby, then becomes Veggieboy, then Veggieman, his growth and development attributed to his love of vegetables. He practices his superpowers as he grows, with text and art taking cheap shots at elderly women (as he lifts “a bus filled with chattering grandmas”) and overweight people (as his X-ray vision enables him to see into a house where a rotund man stands, embarrassed and clad only in his underwear: “Some things are better not seen.”) The book ends with Veggieman getting a new name from children who see a stick stuck to his shirt, making the V into a W, and dub him Wedgieman. “We don’t care about spelling,” they assure him when he objects that the word “wedgie” has a “d” and not a double “g.” His new name is sealed when (in an odd turn of events that is, sadly, characteristic of the poorly executed text) he gives himself a wedgie.

In what seems like a veritable golden age of beginning readers, perhaps some things are better not published. Or read. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-93071-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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A serene, feel-good outing with a cozy, old-fashioned feel.

CHIRRI & CHIRRA

From the Chirri & Chirra series

In this Japanese import, the first in a long-running series to appear in English, two girls ride bikes through a forest—with stops for clover-blossom tea and jam sandwiches.

It’s such a benign wood that Chirri and Chirra—depicted as a prim pair of identical twins with straight bob cuts—think nothing of sharing both a lunch spot and a nap beneath a tree with a bear and a rabbit. Moreover, at convenient spots along the way there is a forest cafe with a fox waiter plus “tables and chairs of all different size” to accommodate the diverse forest clientele, a bakery offering “bread in all different shapes and jam in all different colors,” and, just as the sun goes down, a forest hotel with similarly diverse keys and doors. That night a forest concert draws the girls and the hotel’s animal guests to their balconies to join in: “La-la-la, La-la-la. What a wonderful night in the forest!” Despite heavy doses of cute, the episode is saved from utter sappiness by the inclusive spirit of the forest stops and the delightfully unforced way that the girls offer greetings to a pair of honeybees at a tiny adjacent table in the cafe, show no anxiety at the spider dangling above their napping place, and generally accept their harmonious sylvan world as a safe and friendly place. Doi creates her illustrations with colored pencil, pastel, and crayon, crafting them to look like mid-20th-century lithographs.

A serene, feel-good outing with a cozy, old-fashioned feel. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59270-199-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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