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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Lilly is in for some fun and adventure, but her story begins with a sad event when she awakens one morning to find her beloved dog, Punkin, is missing: “I know WHO caused this P-Upheaval…” And the wordplay begins. It’s a battle between Evil Eva at the Carnival and poor distraught Lilly. With her friends, Lilly sets out to rescue Punkin before it’s too late.
Kathy Johnson’s picture book story, Carnival Lilly/ Carn’evil’ Lilly (Lil’ Lilly series), is another fun and interactive wordplay story in the Lilly series. Told mostly in rhyming verse, this very colorfully illustrated book is chock full of fun ideas, fun words, and a fun story. Like Martin Handford’s Where’s Waldo series, this book is eye-boggling with all the playful extras, particularly in the illustrations. The fun (and funny) use (and playful misuse) of words adds a charming characteristic to an otherwise silly mystery.
The plot follows the search for missing Punkin, leading Lilly and her friends to the Carnival in search of the dognapper, Evil Eva. But, just as the group of children thinks they’re getting closer to finding Punkin, Evil Eva devises some seemingly silly way to hide the little pup. With a little bit of chanting, “Magicow. Tragicow. Anthropo-Phagicow,” Punkin is transformed and hidden again, Evil Eva delighted that “You’re a famous ‘MOO’vie star cow. Lilly will never find you now!” Such fun, such a play on words. And so many things to look at, to observe and laugh about as the young reader absorbs all the phonetically, sound-alike words that are so downright silly.