The Barnes & Noble Review
Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel -- the team that brought you And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon -- get back together for a rip-roaring tall tale about that mystical creature, the jackalope.
Told by a cowboy hatwearing armadillo, Jackalope's story is one hilarious romp. When "a very unhappy jackrabbit" from "the land of cactus and cattle" realizes he hates being ordinary, he falls asleep and dreams of having big horns to set himself apart. Of course, he gets his wish from his "Fairy Godrabbit," but when Coyote almost catches him for a snack, he thinks his horns might be hampering his scampering. Unfortunately, Fairy Godrabbit's spell transfers Jack's horns onto her and whets Coyote's appetite again, but when Jack's silly rescue attempt sends Coyote laughing into a river and breaks Fairy Godrabbit's wand, the two become buddies for good.
A kooky yarn that will keep kids chuckling, Jackalope hits the mark with its down-home language and silly characters. Stevens's bright artwork reflects the same humor as her illustrations for Epossumondas, while Crummel's rolling words make it zingy. A genuine treat for story time. Matt Warner
This team's (And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon) new fable features a multi-layered story line, kinetic art and a lot of sass. A shambling armadillo in oversize cowboy gear hosts the tale ("Ever seen a jackalope?") and offers down-home moralizing in the margins ("Why, don't you be wishing for something you're not-/ It's better to be who you are!"), while the figure of Jack provides a foolish counterpoint to the armadillo's knowing voice. Jack wants to be scary, and he doesn't care whose toes he steps on in order to be feared. His Fairy Godrabbit brings him horns to make him fearsome, but the two of them must escape hungry Coyote before they can live happily ever after. After what looks like a clever escape, the slow-talking armadillo discloses, Coyote devours Jack and Jill and all the rest of the characters-and there the villain sits on the opposite page, relaxing post-meal in a lawn chair, picking his teeth with one of Jack's antlers. "The end," the armadillo says. It's a startling moment, until-"Ha! Just kidding," says the armadillo on the next page. Stevens's colored-pencil spreads and spot illustrations build momentum and hold many surprises. The double ending, the puns and the artwork will be enjoyed by all ages. Ages 5-8. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-This story, a cross between a tall tale and a fractured fable, is narrated by a traveling armadillo, and abounds in laughs and lessons. Jackrabbit is unhappy about not being fierce. Wishing on a star gets him the attention of a vegetable-punning fairy godrabbit ("Now, lettuce see-") who grants him a pair of horns (hence the jackalope) with the caveat that he not tell lies. Lying, naturally, makes them grow. Coyote happens along, and as Jack dives for his old hiding place, his horns get stuck in the ground. Between them, Godrabbit and Jack foil Coyote and live reasonably happily ever after (punning all the way). The exuberant illustrations and large size make this book ideal for group read-alouds, and the puns will appeal to older audiences. This title is an excellent choice for further discussion of the origins of fractured tales, and the advisability of wishing you were someone other than who you are. A short afterword provides facts on animals that are not what their names imply: jackrabbit's really a hare, antelope a pronghorn, horned toad a lizard. All told, the nutty plot, sympathetic characters, and handsome illustrations make for a roaring good time.-Cris Riedel, Ellis B. Hyde Elementary School, Dansville, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
What should be a whimsical tale of the fictitious desert critter found on so many postcards in the Southwest instead becomes a labored slog through a confused tall-fairy-tale landscape. It begins and ends on the endpapers, as a genial armadillo approaches the reader, sets up a folding chair, and launches into the story. This frame produces a series of sub-frames as the armadillo takes the role of balladeer, introducing segments of his story with cowboy doggerel. It turns out that the famed horned hare began life as a perfectly, and unhappily, ordinary jackrabbit. Various conversations with his magic mirror apparently summon his Fairy Godrabbit, a painful punster, who grants him horns and an accompanying Pinocchio-like curse that causes his horns to grow whenever he tells a lie. The meandering tale goes on and on until the armadillo ambles off after the exhausting conclusion. Stevens’s art, a computer-enhanced combination of painting and collage, features her signature energetic line, but here it crosses the boundary into frenetic. As does the narrative itself: line and bright colors cannot sustain a text that simply does not seem to know when to end. Crummel and Stevens’s previous collaborations (And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon, 2001, etc.) have shown a distinct tendency toward self-referential narrative; this offering, with its promising concept, carries this style into self-indulgent. (Picture book. 5-8)