While it won’t find much of an audience beyond already interested tourists, this guide to Milwaukee is a cut above its ilk,...



From the Our City Adventures series

An unexpectedly attractive addition to the standard picture-book travel guide.

Lulu, a young fox, and her penguin companion, Pufferson, one day receive a letter from her aunt Fancy. Sending them tickets for the trip, her aunt encourages the duo to take the ferry to Milwaukee to join Lulu’s cousin Rocky for a three-day sightseeing extravaganza. Staying at the real-life, ritzy Pfister Hotel, the three waste no time seeing the sights. For exercise they rent canoes, ascend a lighthouse, and rent a surrey bike. Food consists of fried cheese curds, a fish fry, and water from the local “bubblers.” The three check out the Milwaukee Art Museum, the lakefront, a statue of Fonzie, and even a brewery (what it brews goes unmentioned, and Lulu, Rocky, and Pufferson do not seem to imbibe). While the book does not aim beyond its stated purpose of introducing kids to Milwaukee’s attractions, the art and writing set it apart from most tourism texts. Graef’s delicate and detailed illustrations are as comfortable replicating a Chihuly as they are portraying a polka band, and the all-animal cast is adorable. The text is a standard litany of place names, but it does take particular care to make the city sound as appealing as possible to small children. Additional fact pages about the city can be found at the end of the book.

While it won’t find much of an audience beyond already interested tourists, this guide to Milwaukee is a cut above its ilk, and it bodes well for the rest of the series. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-53411-017-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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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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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.


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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