May be of some interest for its cast, if not its cleverness or language.

THERE WAS AN OLD GATOR WHO SWALLOWED A MOTH

A version of the popular cumulative rhyme with swamp, ocean, and bayou creatures on the menu.

As Lee opens with a weak partial rhyme—“I don’t know why he swallowed the moth. / It made him cough”—and closes clumsily with “one final cough” that “carried everything off” (i.e., in a big upchuck), this doesn’t measure up to the plethora of tighter, sillier, more colorful variations on the old ditty. Still, as the increasingly walleyed gator’s subsequent victims include a crab, an eel, a ray, a pelican, a panther, a manatee (“He lost his sanity to swallow a manatee!”), and a shark before he guzzles an entire lagoon, there’s at least a regional bent to the cast. Also, the jaunty cadences lend themselves equally well to being read or sung, and Opie’s occasional cutaway views of a swelling reptilian belly and its scowling inhabitants add comical suspense to his green-dominated wetland scenes. As the gator survives the experience, this can be added to the versions by Lucille Colandro (14 so far and counting) and others that gloss over or revise the archetype’s mortal consequences. All the critters the gator gobbles survive too, swimming or flying away in bedraggled dismay.

May be of some interest for its cast, if not its cleverness or language. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4556-2441-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pelican

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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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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Sweet fare for bed- or naptimes, with a light frosting of natural history.

WOODLAND DREAMS

A sonorous, soporific invitation to join woodland creatures in bedding down for the night.

As in her Moon Babies, illustrated by Amy Hevron (2019), Jameson displays a rare gift for harmonious language and rhyme. She leads off with a bear: “Come home, Big Paws. / Berry picker / Honey trickster / Shadows deepen in the glen. / Lumber back inside your den.” Continuing in the same pattern, she urges a moose (“Velvet Nose”), a deer (“Tiny Hooves”), and a succession of ever smaller creatures to find their nooks and nests as twilight deepens in Boutavant’s woodsy, autumnal scenes and snow begins to drift down. Through each of those scenes quietly walks an alert White child (accompanied by an unusually self-controlled pooch), peering through branches or over rocks at the animals in the foregrounds and sketching them in a notebook. The observer’s turn comes round at last, as a bearded parent beckons: “This way, Small Boots. / Brave trailblazer / Bright stargazer / Cabin’s toasty. Blanket’s soft. / Snuggle deep in sleeping loft.” The animals go unnamed, leaving it to younger listeners to identify each one from the pictures…if they can do so before the verses’ murmurous tempo closes their eyes.

Sweet fare for bed- or naptimes, with a light frosting of natural history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7063-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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