MY DAD

Greenaway and Hans Christian Andersen medallist Browne presents a sweet-natured celebration of Dad in all his infinite variety. Browne, a master of the colored-pencil and wash illustration, has an almost preternatural gift for balancing delicious detail with winning whimsy. Here, warmly appealing, carefully composed pictures feature a simple and wonderfully appealing motif—an umber, sepia, and sunny yellow-toned plaid bathrobe fabric as unique visual shorthand for, well . . . Dad. From our first view of him (clasping a mug of tea at the breakfast table) to last (clasping the androgynous child narrator in a feet-off-the-ground hug), he’s reliably clad in his all-occasion snappy blue-and-white-striped pajamas, cozy red slippers, and his “signature” woolen plaid dressing gown. Whether Browne depicts him as a horse tucking into a huge mound of beans, chips, eggs, and tomatoes, a professional wrestler, competing in school field day, or even as weightlifting gorilla, he’s the man in plaid. The publisher may have done a disservice to Dads as well as the book in their well-meaning attempt at improved accessibility for the American audience. In a central spread, bath-robed and mortarboard-clad owl as Dad is posed professorially against a chalkboard covered with arithmetic problems. The facing page then depicts Dad proudly posed (à la American Gothic) with a stiff push broom that pleasingly matches his equally stiff and contoured, flat-top hair—once called a “brush cut.” The original text reads: “He’s as wise as an owl and as bristly as a brush. He’s all right my dad.” The newest version instead captions Dad with broom: “except when he tries to help. He’s all right my dad.” Click. A singularly unfortunate default to the stereotype that any man who engages in any family “life support” activities (like cleaning) is de facto inept. This disappointing spread is even more out-of-step in a book that celebrates the “every-Dad” in every way. Does this flaw/defect detract enough to merit a knee-jerk rejection? No. We can only hope the publisher will return to the original in future reprints. In the meantime, you might want to stock up for Father’s Day. This one has family favorite written all over it. (Picture book. All ages)

Pub Date: April 12, 2001

ISBN: 0-374-35101-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2001

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 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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