The mean streets may have never looked so clean, but it still takes pluck and courage to survive them.

PIZZA MOUSE

From the I Like To Read series

For a New York City mouse, hazards abound—but also delicious discoveries.

Garland knocks the rougher edges off an incident featuring an ambitious rat and a whole slice of pizza that was caught in a viral 2015 video clip. Sporting a tough-guy chip on his diminutive shoulder (“I am a mouse. So what?”), this nonetheless cute, fuzzy forager has four legs but anthropomorphically scurries around on two. He pithily tallies his many foes as he roots through piles of garbage, snatches a roll from a table of elegant diners, takes shelter from a swooping hawk in a used pizza box, and finally drags the cheesy treasure he finds therein down subway steps and through a crowd of oblivious commuters to present it to a squad of nestlings. “Daddy!” they exclaim. Along with downsizing his protagonist and giving him a family to feed, Garland does such an awful job of depicting urban grime that even the worst food waste looks not just yummy, but artistically displayed. Still, though the setting may be caricatured, the thoroughly diverse human cast, even its Asian members, is not, and he offers an affectionate ankle-level view of the city’s general hurly-burly.

The mean streets may have never looked so clean, but it still takes pluck and courage to survive them. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3761-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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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