NINJA ON THE FARM

From the Moby Shinobi series , Vol. 1

Moby Shinobi, a young ninja, is eager to use his many skills to help Farmer Bob with his myriad chores.

Ready to kick, spin, jab, jump, and run, Moby has good intentions, but his “help” usually ends in disastrous upheaval on the farm. His flip-and-swipe method of collecting eggs leaves shards and goo all over the coop, along with some very disturbed chickens. Ninja spinning while scooping Pitchfork Pete’s hay has everyone sneezing. Jumping with pails of slop for the pigs creates a muddy mess in the pen. Seeing the results of his good intentions, Moby laments “I did my ninja best you see. / I wish there was a job for me.” Colorful digital artwork with an animation aesthetic depicts farm animals and humans alike with oversized oval eyes reflecting the astonishment caused by Moby’s actions. Readable rhyming couplets set up the action, which is captured in sequences of one-word action verbs that accompany vignettes that depict the accumulating chaos. For example, in trying to collect eggs, Moby’s “FLIP! / SWIPE!” is followed by the chickens’ “SQUAWK! / CRACK!” Readers should laugh along with the antics, empathize with Farmer Bob’s dismay, and cheer in the end when Moby’s skills finally come in handy. Moby and Farmer Bob are light-skinned; Pitchfork Pete has brown skin.

Amusing and accessible. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-93537-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Superficially appealing; much less so upon closer examination.

TOO MANY CARROTS

When Rabbit’s unbridled mania for collecting carrots leaves him unable to sleep in his cozy burrow, other animals offer to put him up.

But to Rabbit, their homes are just more storage space for carrots: Tortoise’s overstuffed shell cracks open; the branch breaks beneath Bird’s nest; Squirrel’s tree trunk topples over; and Beaver’s bulging lodge collapses at the first rainstorm. Impelled by guilt and the epiphany that “carrots weren’t for collecting—they were for SHARING!” Rabbit invites his newly homeless friends into his intact, and inexplicably now-roomy, burrow for a crunchy banquet. This could be read (with some effort) as a lightly humorous fable with a happy ending, and Hudson’s depictions of carrot-strewn natural scenes, of Rabbit as a plush bunny, and of the other animals as, at worst, mildly out of sorts support that take. Still, the insistent way Rabbit keeps forcing himself on his friends and the magnitude of the successive disasters may leave even less-reflective readers disturbed. Moreover, as Rabbit is never seen actually eating a carrot, his stockpiling looks a lot like the sort of compulsive hoarding that, in humans, is regarded as a mental illness.

Superficially appealing; much less so upon closer examination. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62370-638-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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