SWOLLOBOG

A wry tall tale about a dog that eats everything—and that really means everything. So named because her youthful mistress had a little trouble writing her letters correctly, Swollobog, true to her moniker, has a near-mythic capacity: "Bananas, toast, and peanut brittle are her particular favorites, besides cheese. She also likes carrots, yogurt, pizza, toenail clippings, and door handles. Oh, and blueberry muffins, snails, mud, toothpaste, lemons . . . " Newcomer Taylor's bright gouache illustrations depict a somewhat rotund, never repentant, dachshund-ish dog with a formidable proboscis who clearly relishes eating her way through life. They frequently venture into the surreal, as when a hungry Swollobog engulfs our narrator's dad's leg up to the knee, or when, in the main action of the book, she eats an enormous squiggly helium balloon, assuming its shape and floating out over the sea. A daring rescue at sea ensues, in which Swollobog's desperate family row out after her, flying a kite dangling peanut brittle intended to pop the balloon from the inside when their insatiable dog eats it. The chatty, deadpan narration relies for its effect on the delightfully sly illustrations—and on a highly developed sense of irony in its reader. For those children, especially ones who may have one of Swollobog's cousins at home, this British import will hit the spot. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-618-04348-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2001

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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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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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