Sure to become a read-aloud favorite.

COCKATOO, TOO

Some quite extraordinary cockatoos and toucans meet and greet each other in a fun-filled romp.

These exotic birds seem to accept and embrace eccentricity. One cockatoo looks up and spots another drifting down from the trees, greeting it as a new friend. When a second pair of cockatoos arrives wearing tutus, they generously gift the original pair with matching costumes. The silliness continues with toucans in tutus doing the cancan and inviting the cockatoos to dance. Soon the invitation is extended to owls and cuckoos, with at least one opting out of the madness. Murguia tells this slightest of tales in the sparest of language, employing six words multiple times in various combinations and including only a few others, resulting in delightful tongue twisters that will challenge adult readers and induce giggles galore in little ones. The text appears in large, widely spaced type on a white background at the bottom of double-paged spreads that are filled with bright green foliage and a cast of goofy-looking birds (and their tutus). The birds convey puzzlement, surprise, and joy with just a few subtle changes in their beaks and eyes. Readers will need sharp eyes to spot cockatoos descending from the trees and toucans emerging from bushes, with a surprise on the back cover. It’s all delightfully hilarious.

Sure to become a read-aloud favorite. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0102-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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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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Likely to cause some imaginative prancing among unicorn and kitty lovers.

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ITTY-BITTY KITTY-CORN

Is Kitty only a kitten? Or might she be a noble unicorn?

Inspired by the unicorn on her poster, Kitty crafts a perfect horn and admires herself in the mirror. She feels “unicorn-y.” Her friends disagree. “ ‘You’re not a unicorn, putty-pie,’ says Parakeet. / ‘You’re curled up like a cat, fluffy-fry,’ says Gecko.” So Kitty uncurls to prance and gallop, but her detractors point out her tiny tail. With some effort she plumps it up. They tell her she will never be a unicorn because she meows like a cat; this, of course, prompts her to let out a loud “NEIGH!” Parakeet and Gecko are having none of it, each time varying their mild name-calling. As the sun dips low, Kitty’s sure her long shadow looks like a unicorn’s—until a real unicorn clops into view. Gecko and Parakeet are impressed, and Kitty feels insignificant. But this unicorn has a secret…a pair of fluffy, pink kitty ears the same pink as Kitty’s. They can be kitty-corns together, best friends. Unicorn fans will definitely identify with Hale’s protagonist and respond well to Pham’s bright cartoons, laid out as spot illustrations that pop against the mostly all-white backgrounds. The way Kitty’s friends dismissively poke fun with their name-calling may give some readers pause, but the be-true-to-the-inner-you message and the expressive characterizations add appeal. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 51.2% of actual size.)

Likely to cause some imaginative prancing among unicorn and kitty lovers. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5091-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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