The contrast between the sister’s understanding and depicted reality is not enough to maintain this 32-page joke.

READ REVIEW

THE SWEETEST WITCH AROUND

In the companion title to A Very Brave Witch (2006), the gutsy, green-skinned girl hopes to teach her little sister to be courageous as well.

McGhee positions the older, unnamed witch girl as narrator, reacting to events with a rather smug superiority. She wants Witchling to “study the humans and learn their mysterious ways,” but at the sight and then taste of candy, Witchling’s reaction is “yum” instead of the prescribed “yuck.” At first the older sister is proud of the little one’s bravery, but readers will see that all Witchling’s developed is a sweet tooth. Parents can relate! Misadventures follow as Witchling takes off on a broom to participate in Halloween trick-or-treating. Bliss infuses humor into his watercolor-and-ink scenes by including an anxious yellow cat who interjects “Holy catnip” and “Holy whiskers” in thought bubbles. When Witchling ends up with an overflowing, too-heavy hat full of candy, her older sister swoops in. But the extra weight is too much for the broom, and Witchling must dump out her great haul to the delight of the humans below. Although well-intentioned and not without charming moments, the book lacks a punch in the ending. The older witch is proud of her sister, but it is unclear for what. Taking off on her own?

The contrast between the sister’s understanding and depicted reality is not enough to maintain this 32-page joke. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-78336

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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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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ALWAYS MORE LOVE

An interactive book works to get its titular message across to readers.

The narrator, an anthropomorphic cartoon heart with big eyes and stick arms and legs, is nothing if not exuberant in its attempts, clumsy and cloying as they may be. “I love you so much, / but there’s more in my heart. / How is that possible? / Well, where do I start? // Now move in close, and you will see / just how much you mean to me. // My love is huge—below, above. / As you can tell, there’s always more love!” The page following the instruction to move in shows a close-up of the top of the heart and its eyes, one stick arm pointing skyward, though despite the admonition “you can tell,” readers will glean nothing about love from this picture. À la Hervé Tullet, the book prompts readers to act, but the instructions can sometimes be confusing (see above) and are largely irrelevant to the following spread, supposedly triggered by the suggested actions. The heart, suddenly supplied with a painter’s palette and a beret and surrounded by blobs of color, instructs readers to “Shake the book to see what I can be.” The page turn reveals hearts of all different colors, one rainbow-striped, and then different shapes. Most troublingly, the heart, who is clearly meant to be a stand-in for loved ones, states, “I’m always here for you,” which for too many children is heartbreakingly not true.

Skip. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1376-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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