THE FLY

A French cartoonist chronicles ups and downs in the life of a fly with clown shoes.

The shoes are only the beginning, as the fly, hatching from a tiny egg (and skipping the larval stage) also sports outsized teeth and a fixed look of wide-eyed, goofy enthusiasm that makes its subsequent adventures all the more comical. In profuse arrays of small, wordless, cinematic panels, nine to a page and all in black and white, Trondheim zeroes in on a kitchen garbage can from which the eager insect, after a false start or two, buzzes off for encounters happy or otherwise with: a window, a decidedly unfriendly spider, a pepper shaker, a cat box, and other joys and hazards of the inside world. Events then take a surreal (not to say cosmic) turn, as the fly grows in spurts to monster size, terrifies a city, flits into intergalactic space—and suddenly finds itself back in the kitchen, fly-sized again and primed for further misadventures. If the last few pages hurtle past like sketchy afterthoughts, this introduction to an insect innocent—who has been entertaining audiences overseas and online since 1995 both in comics form and in a long series of short films—will beguile young readers on this side of the Atlantic as well.

Worthy of buzz. (Graphic fiction. 5-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5458-0708-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Papercutz

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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Two delightfully dense heroes bring folk tales into the 21st century, and young readers are all the richer for it.

NOODLEHEADS SEE THE FUTURE

Two thickheaded macaroni noodles prove the old adage: a fool and his firewood are soon parted.

Fools have been called “noodleheads” for centuries, but until recently few have represented the term quite so literally. Mac and Mac aren’t the brightest pieces of pasta in the world, but their hearts are in the right place. Here, the two decide to help their mama out by gathering firewood in hopes that she’ll bake them a cake. As they are attempting to cut the very branch they’re sitting on, a passing meatball points out that they are mere minutes away from bruised bottoms. When his words come to pass, our heroes decide the meatball is clairvoyant and demand to know their future. Drawing on and smoothly weaving together a variety of folk tales, the brief graphic novel describes how its obtuse protagonists single-mindedly seek cake, even as they anticipate death, purchase “firewood seeds” (aka acorns), and accidentally dig their mother a garden. Emergent readers will appreciate the simple text, short chapters, and comics-inspired paneled illustrations. Adults will appreciate the authors’ note, which goes into some detail about each chapter’s folk origins.

Two delightfully dense heroes bring folk tales into the 21st century, and young readers are all the richer for it. (Graphic early reader. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3673-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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