It’s a gorgeous physical book, but perhaps it’s best for adult collectors rather than children.



The term “crocodile tears” explained in a fanciful illustrated story.

As a design object, the physical book package is perfection. A sturdy, small box (10.5 by 3.5 by 0.5) is printed to look like an airmail letter, and as readers will discover when they get into the story, it also represents the ideal box in which to catch a crocodile. Which in fact it has—as the book itself, which snuggles inside the box, has a whimsical crocodile printed on the cover. François’ (one of the pre-eminent graphic designers/cartoonists of the 20th century) masterful, waggish drawings in a simple but striking three-color palette (orange, green, and black) are printed on each recto page, with the text on the verso. The book’s long binding boards are very thick and snap shut, like a crocodile’s jaws. If only the story were perfection as well. With acknowledgement of the tale’s whimsy and gentle societal satire, the casual assumption that humans can capture a young crocodile—and even note that “its mother is very sad”—and ship it in a box to a human home (all people shown as white) for the humans’ amusement is not as acceptable a premise as it may have been in 1955, when the book was first published (to great acclaim).

It’s a gorgeous physical book, but perhaps it’s best for adult collectors rather than children. (Picture book. 5-adult)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59270-227-5

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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