PIGNIC

The pig family is gathering for its annual picnic, to which each member brings a different food: ``Auntie Anne made apple pie./Ben brought beans from Boston./Cousin Cabe baked carrot cake./Some dates arrived with Dustin.'' The uppercase and lowercase forms of each letter appear in the top outer corner of its page; the challenge is to find all the letter's uses in the alliterative text. X, as usual, is the spoiler: ``Max brought extra jelly.'' Miranda (Does a Mouse Have a House?, 1994, etc.) uses the last page to display a list of all the letters and their corresponding foods. The fun is in the pastel-colored illustrations: Each of the quirkily attired, bipedal pigs is distinctive, and fans of Audrey Woods's Horrible Holidays (1988) will already know what Hoffman can do with a gathering of eccentrics. Here the backgrounds become progressively more crowded and antic; readers can follow the trials of Fern, who is trying to keep the lid on ``fifty fish'' she's frying, or savor visual puns—Karl's kumquat mousse appears to be garnished with a moose antler. There have been other alliterative alphabets keyed to cuisine (Crescent Dragonwagon's Alligator Arrived with Apples, 1987; Anne Shelby's Potluck, 1991); if this one isn't a great abecedarium, it is a terrific ``pignic'' book. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 1-56397-558-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1995

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THIS BOOK IS GRAY

A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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