Bank on fun with this one—it’ll rope readers in.

JACK GOES WEST

From the Jack Book series , Vol. 4

That bad bunny Jack is back—and he’s gone out West!

Jack and the Lady arrive at the dude ranch for a three-day stay. Slim, the gold-toothed ranch hand, immediately takes a liking to the Lady. He calls her “ma’am” and kisses her hand, which makes Jack mad. That night, a bell sounds the alarm at the bank next to the ranch. The Lady goes to investigate only to find that Slim thwarted the theft but was unable to capture the bandit. A wanted poster reveals the bandit’s long ears and scowling eyes. Could it really be Jack? Barnett and Pizzoli are in apple-pie order in this Western for emerging readers. The laugh-out-loud mystery unfolds over six chapters, breathing humor into genre tropes. With a vocabulary of around 150 words and multiple sentences per page, the text is a bit more complex than earlier series entries. The creators’ successful subversion of moralistic primers will inevitably delight readers (though grown-ups may find the moral ambiguity unsettling). Jack at Bat, which publishes simultaneously, gives Jack a chance to settle the score between rival baseball teams—provided he can follow the rules of the game. The humans in Jack Goes West predominantly present white with the exception of the Law Lady, a woman of color, but those in Jack at Bat are diverse in skin tone. As with the other books in the series, each book ends with drawing instructions.

Bank on fun with this one—it’ll rope readers in. (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11388-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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