Percy doesn’t seem to have much of a destiny beyond chasing his favorite ball, but perhaps that is the point.



A black-and-white dog plays with his canine pals at a dog park, culminating in an encounter with a feisty, ball-stealing squirrel.

Percy is a bright-eyed dog of indeterminate breed, with a long, skinny tail and a black spot over one eye. He narrates the story with just a few words and a snappy attitude, using witty expressions such as “my little porkie pie” as a nickname for his beloved, special ball. (The genially archaic, repeated “What ho!” may raise more than a few eyebrows, given its unfortunate homonymic relationship to the modern slur.) Percy meets up with his three canine friends at the dog park, each having brought along a favorite toy. Molly is a standard poodle who carries a bandanna, Oatmeal Raisin Cookie is a dachshund with a Frisbee, and Fluffy is a huge, fierce-looking but gentle fellow toting a correspondingly huge bone. At the park, the dogs play together until a sassy squirrel faces off with Percy, trying to steal his ball. When the squirrel swipes Percy’s ball and then flings it from a tree, Fluffy solves the problem by leaping up to catch it. Minimalist, digitally produced illustrations use white backgrounds and a muted color palette to complement the sophisticated tone of the text. Percy’s long, pointed tail (presumably in perpetual motion) is frequently depicted as three distinct appendages; since there are no motion lines to help readers decode this, it appears that the dog is a tri-tailed anomaly.

Percy doesn’t seem to have much of a destiny beyond chasing his favorite ball, but perhaps that is the point. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017


Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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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.


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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