Ultimately, since Chuck ends up smartly eschewing the pants at book’s end, the title even ends up seeming like a misnomer.

PANTS FOR CHUCK

From the I Like To Read series

A beginning reader with a silly story that may or may not hold up to interrogation about anthropomorphic animals and story logic.

Big Chuck is a woodchuck who enjoys playing with other backyard animals such as a chipmunk, mice, a rabbit, a raccoon and a chickadee. They play, running and climbing about until Chuck spies a rag doll on the ground and inspects its clothing. He decides he wants the doll’s pants for himself and tries to squeeze into them. The others are obviously correct when they tell him that he is too big and the pants are too small, but Chuck ignores their protests and tries to run and climb about, just as before. Humorous watercolors capture the physical comedy of the scenes, and he remains determined to wear the pants until his girth makes them burst at the seams, with text reading “Pop! Rip!” Depending on readers’ suspension of disbelief, it’s either funny or confusing that on the next page Chuck covers his backside in embarrassment as the other animals look away. None of them is wearing clothing, and he was likewise Chuck-naked before donning the pants, so the internal logic of the story seems a bit off.

Ultimately, since Chuck ends up smartly eschewing the pants at book’s end, the title even ends up seeming like a misnomer. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3066-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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