In the tradition of humorous metafictive offerings of the past, this celebration of chaos is a veritable festival of fun.

WARNING: DO NOT OPEN THIS BOOK!

Debut author Lehrhaupt and New York Times Notable Children’s Book illustrator Forsythe (My Name Is Elizabeth!, 2011) team up for a laugh-out-loud romp through monkey-infested pages.

From the title and the endpapers’ warning signs (“I guess you don’t mind being mauled by mo___s”) to the opening pages’ admonishments not to venture further, the narrator repeatedly warns readers not to open this book. Those who do not heed these pleas release a troop of artistic monkeys that wreak havoc on the book itself. Nothing is safe from these wild invaders—not the art and not the text. When the narrator again urges readers to turn back, toucans join the fracas. Forsythe uses the same warm palette for the toucans as the monkeys, adding a nice continuity to an otherwise strange addition that slows down this well-paced story. Before the toucans can do much, an alligator shows up, frightening everyone. With chaos reigning supreme, the narrator turns to readers for help in laying out a plan to snare the animals inside the book. Forsythe’s digitally rendered art is hilariously expressive and laugh-worthy in its own right, and it is well-paired with Lehrhaupt’s spare comic text, successfully creating a book that is enjoyable both to read and behold.

In the tradition of humorous metafictive offerings of the past, this celebration of chaos is a veritable festival of fun. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-3582-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

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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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Likely to cause some imaginative prancing among unicorn and kitty lovers.

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ITTY-BITTY KITTY-CORN

Is Kitty only a kitten? Or might she be a noble unicorn?

Inspired by the unicorn on her poster, Kitty crafts a perfect horn and admires herself in the mirror. She feels “unicorn-y.” Her friends disagree. “ ‘You’re not a unicorn, putty-pie,’ says Parakeet. / ‘You’re curled up like a cat, fluffy-fry,’ says Gecko.” So Kitty uncurls to prance and gallop, but her detractors point out her tiny tail. With some effort she plumps it up. They tell her she will never be a unicorn because she meows like a cat; this, of course, prompts her to let out a loud “NEIGH!” Parakeet and Gecko are having none of it, each time varying their mild name-calling. As the sun dips low, Kitty’s sure her long shadow looks like a unicorn’s—until a real unicorn clops into view. Gecko and Parakeet are impressed, and Kitty feels insignificant. But this unicorn has a secret…a pair of fluffy, pink kitty ears the same pink as Kitty’s. They can be kitty-corns together, best friends. Unicorn fans will definitely identify with Hale’s protagonist and respond well to Pham’s bright cartoons, laid out as spot illustrations that pop against the mostly all-white backgrounds. The way Kitty’s friends dismissively poke fun with their name-calling may give some readers pause, but the be-true-to-the-inner-you message and the expressive characterizations add appeal. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 51.2% of actual size.)

Likely to cause some imaginative prancing among unicorn and kitty lovers. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5091-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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