JUST SO STORIES

VOLUME II

Wallace follows up his first volume of reillustrated Kipling pourquois tales (2013) with its companion.

Limpid mixed-media paintings depict Painted Jaguar lecturing the Stickly-Prickly Hedgehog (a tiny ball of spines), Tegumai the Neolithic man thigh-deep in the river lamenting his broken spear, and the Cat that walked by himself going deep into the Wet Wild Woods. Following the format of the earlier volume, one full-page painting opens each story, and then three more appear within, sometimes occupying a whole page and sometimes stretching across the tops of two and straddling the gutter. Appropriately for this illustrated book of stories, he focuses the cover on the pieces of birch bark from “How the First Letter Was Written” and “How the Alphabet Was Made,” held by Taffy Metallumai and her daddy; on the wraparound rear cover are Cat, Hedgehog and King Crab, all staring solemnly out at readers. Detailed illustrator’s notes explain Wallace’s approach, story by story, revealing connections among them and providing background information. He plants a smiling “wild thing” on Taffy’s Neolithic cave wall in homage to Sendak and uses pencil crayon, pastel pencil and chalk to “capture the scorching sun of a desert country” in another story. Glorious as the illustrations are, they complement rather than undercutting Kipling’s rolling lines: “But…when the moon gets up and night comes, he is the Cat that walks by himself, and all places are alike to him.”

A triumph . (Short stories. 5 & up)

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55498-213-4

Page Count: 140

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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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