A simplistic, well-meaning tale.

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CANDY PINK

First published in Italy 40 years ago, this picture book challenges sexism with a story about an anthropomorphic elephant who subverts her community’s notions about what girls should look like and how they should behave.

The titular phrase “candy pink” refers to the skin color of female elephants in this story, which comes from their diet of flowers. A metaphorical introduction of socially constructed gender norms finds boy elephants allowed to roam free and eat what they choose, while girls remain in a fenced garden. Daisy is “slightly different from the other girl elephants,” and even though she eats “peonies and anemones” like the other girls, her skin remains gray. This greatly displeases her parents, and it also pokes holes in constructivist ideology—why don’t social pressures and norms affect her the same way they do others? Is there some essential difference in her? Ultimately, Daisy’s parents give up and abandon her to her own devices. She sheds her pink, girly clothing and runs free, eating and doing as she wishes. The other girls are initially “frightened…worried…[and] bewildered,” but then they become jealous and leave the enclosure. Curiously, there are no ramifications for this subversive behavior, and, liberated, they all turn gray. Cartoonish illustrations are largely redundant of the message-driven text, though other animals appear as observers to the elephants’ story.

A simplistic, well-meaning tale. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-84-944318-9-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: nubeOCHO

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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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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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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