Humorous, engaging illustrations support a slight but amusing tale.

ESCAPE GOAT

The members of the Farmer family keep blaming their problems on their goat.

When the goat escapes from his pen, he gets into mischief—but is it he who tramples Mrs. Farmer’s petunias? Did the goat eat Andrew’s homework? Did he really knock over the paint can? Eat all the cupcakes for Archer’s birthday party? And how about the gum on Mr. Farmer’s seat? Mr. Farmer correctly observes that “Goats don’t chew gum.” Andrew retorts: “Escape Goat does.” It takes honest Nicolette to finally get to the truth. She has to shout: “You’re punishing the goat for things he didn’t do.” The other family members don’t want to admit their own foibles, but in a slapstick scene Andrew throws a ball that hits the water pitcher carried by Mrs. Farmer; the water spills onto Uncle Nathan, who’s carrying a basket of muffins; the muffins are hurled at Mr. Farmer who drops a huge salad. In the midst of this great ado, Nicolette sensibly points out the goat grazing nearby and says: “The goat didn’t do anything.” The story itself lacks real substance and the wordplay on “scapegoat” will almost certainly elude young readers, but they will get the visual jokes, made evident in Glasser’s exuberant ink-and-watercolor cartoons. The humans (white-presenting save Archer, who has beige skin), the animals, and the farm itself are delightfully represented.

Humorous, engaging illustrations support a slight but amusing tale. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-288339-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Hee haw.

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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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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...

THE BOOK HOG

A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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