Kids without a frame of reference will still get a kick out of these goofy gulls.



Take a seaside location, add a colony of gulls and the alphabet, and the result is a clever abecedary specific to Maine.

On each page one word is paired with a gull whose name begins with the same letter and who acts out the descriptive, alliterative sentence. “Airplane / Avery has an afternoon adventure in an airplane.” The red print in “Airplane” is echoed by red wings on the aircraft itself and, in the distance, red stripes on a lighthouse down below. A goggled gull is in the cockpit, giving readers a “thumbs up” with its wing. “Lobster / Ledge loves to see the lobsters in his trap.” A gull clad in red waterproof overalls holds an old-fashioned lobster pot under one wing; four live green lobsters accessorize the picture. As always with an alphabet book, some letters are less fertile than others. “Queen / The sandcastle makes Quoddy feel like a queen.” The letter X shows Xander looking at an X-ray of his broken leg; Zeke zips up his life jacket before zooming off in a canoe to Zephyr Cove. The simple, flat illustrations have a paper-collage, playful look that is amusing. The unusual names are explained by a note on the back cover that states that most of the gulls are named after Maine islands: Nubble, Vaill, Keeler, Haskell, and more. Though the gulls all look the same, it’s their outfits and actions that add individuality.

Kids without a frame of reference will still get a kick out of these goofy gulls. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-944762-08-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Islandport Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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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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