When the author suggests that the recipe “can be a favorite in your family, too,” many people in the audience will be...

TOADS ON TOAST

Toads are not a breakfast food.

You’re an elementary school teacher. You hold up this picture book. Exactly half of your students say, “Ewwwww!” Exactly half look delighted. So half the class will be pleased to find out that no toads are eaten in the course of this book. Mamma Toad throws herself in front of the recipe book before Fox can cook anybody. “Wait!” she calls out. “There must be a better recipe.” Jack draws each ingredient as it goes into the pan: an egg, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, bread and butter, no toads. Some of your students will want to start cooking before you’ve finished the book, and fortunately, Mamma Toad’s Secret Toad-in-a-Hole Recipe appears at the end of the story. The words “1 toad” are crossed out. A few students will be disappointed by this, but they’ll love the pictures of the swarming baby toads getting into food fights and jumping in the honey pot while Fox cooks dinner. And whether they’re for or against a toad diet, almost 100 percent of your students will want to hear the book again.

When the author suggests that the recipe “can be a favorite in your family, too,” many people in the audience will be inclined to believe it. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-55453-662-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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