The text of this review is longer than the text of the book.
(STARRED) Black, Michael Ian
Illus. by Kevin Hawkes
Actor/comedian Black produces a winner with his first children’s book. A bear spies honey in a hive high atop a skinny tree, and as other animals come along, they pile on top of each other to create a tower. The focus of the story, and of Hawkes’s brilliant acrylic cartoons, is animal backsides—“moose caboose,” “penguin patootie” and, of course, “chicken cheeks.” Pictures tell the story, with minimal text adding humor with rhyme, alliteration and clever wordplay. The visual humor is outstanding: What comes out of chicken cheeks? An egg of course, cracked upon the moose’s nose. The animals’ expressions are priceless as they struggle under each other’s weight; the sight of the guinea pig straining to hold up the “deer rear” is positively hysterical. A “bumblebee bum” provides the climax to the story, and the tale concludes wordlessly, showing who gets to enjoy the honey in the end, or “the ends,” as the author puts it. No butts about it, this is a perfect collaboration of text and illustration. (Picture book. 3-8)