“The neighborhood was never the same,” the narrator reports, and neither will be the charmed listeners and readers of this...

FROODLE

When Little Brown Bird decides to sing something silly, most birds in the neighborhood follow her lead, but crows can’t be silly, can they?

The creator of A Penguin Story (2009) returns with another imaginative solution to monotony and predictability in the natural world. “All year long,” the narration begins, “…the birds in the neighborhood went....” The words “caw,” “coo,” “chip” and “peep” repeat in speech bubbles, varied only in the order of their appearance. Then, one day, Little Brown Bird tries something new. “Froodle sproodle!” extends across a lengthy spread, its font emphasizing the shocking surprise. On the next spread, matched in magnitude, an unamused crow stares down at the miscreant, but Little Brown Bird can’t resist. Soon, Cardinal and Dove are experimenting, too. As the silliness spreads, the story actually turns sideways for a moment, forcing readers to physically rotate the book 90 degrees. Repeat listeners will gleefully join in with the rhyming dialogue bubbles. The mixed-media illustrations created with pencil, charcoal and ink and with digitally added color are made up of simple and stylized images, but the birds are recognizable.

“The neighborhood was never the same,” the narrator reports, and neither will be the charmed listeners and readers of this cheerful invitation to invention. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59643-922-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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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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Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed.

YOU DON'T WANT A DRAGON!

If you thought having a unicorn as a pet was hard, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tried owning a dragon.

The young protagonist of You Don’t Want a Unicorn! (2017) is back, and they clearly haven’t learned their lesson. Now they’ve wished for a pet dragon. As the intrusive narrator is quick to point out, everything about it seems fun at the beginning. However, it’s not long before the doglike dragon starts chasing squirrels, drooling, pooping (ever wondered where charcoal comes from?), scooting its butt across the floor (leaving fire and flames behind), and more. By now, the dragon has grown too huge to keep, so the child (who appears white and also to live alone) wishes it away and settles for a cute little hamster instead. A perfect pet…until it finds a stray magical cupcake. Simple cartoon art and a surfeit of jokes about defecation suggest this book will find an appreciative audience. The dragon/dog equivalences are cute on an initial read, but they may not be strong enough to convince anyone to return. Moreover, a surprising amount of the plot hinges on having read the previous book in this series (it’s the only way readers will know that cupcakes are unicorn poop).

Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53580-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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