Fans will be looking for Zack’s parting words to Bridget to come true: “We’ll have more fun soon.” (Early reader. 4-8)

ZACK'S ALLIGATOR AND THE FIRST SNOW

Zack and his alligator, Bridget, have a wintry adventure in this early reader.

When grown-ups aren’t around, Zack’s alligator key chain comes alive, à la Calvin and Hobbes, and grows to life size whenever she gets wet. In this latest imaginative romp, Bridget experiences snow for the first time. She and Zack make a new friend in a little girl they meet, and the trio makes snow angels (and gators), goes sledding and—hysterically—manages to escape being spotted by Zack’s parents. Hungry, Bridget lets her nose lead her to the ice, where she gobbles down every fish she sees—it’s no wonder that Zack’s ice-fishing parents come up empty-handed at the end of the day. Watts’ softly-colored illustrations reflect the joy and exuberance that snow brings, while Bridget’s innocence is charming: She seems a mix of Frosty the Snowman and Amelia Bedelia in what she doesn’t know. Her comparisons to what she is familiar with from her native Florida will provoke giggles (each snowflake is different, “[l]ike the snails and slugs in the Glades”). Simple sentences and vocabulary and a lively story make this just right for developing readers.

Fans will be looking for Zack’s parting words to Bridget to come true: “We’ll have more fun soon.” (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-147370-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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