Alas, toilet humor always seems to lure kids in, whether the story warrants it or not (Marty’s is the latter).

FARTY MARTY

Walter the Farting Dog has new company in Marty, a cat with star potential.

Mary Jane’s new cat is gassy (to put it mildly), but she loves him just the same. When a voice tutor visits, the whole family comes to recognize his true gift amid all the odor: After eating some grapes, French cheese and the “hand-painted sack” they came in, Marty plays “Au Clair de Lune” with his tush. Some experimentation follows. “First French! Now Italian! This testing reveals, / Marty’s audio output is inspired by his meals!” Marty stuns the crowd at the Gala Pet Show with fireworks (after eating franks and beans) before tooting “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” His fame established, Marty sets off on a world tour. While Ward would like children to believe that their pets’ flatulence is a gold mine waiting to be discovered, not many parents are likely to find even Marty to be worth much. Oddly divided verses and stumbling scansion make reading this aloud a bit of a challenge, and for once, Kellogg’s illustrations are not enough to save the tale. Marty’s wide-open green eyes alternate between giving him an always-surprised expression and just looking creepy, and his gas is shown as swooshes of color (and sometimes words) coming from his rear end.

Alas, toilet humor always seems to lure kids in, whether the story warrants it or not (Marty’s is the latter). (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-3901-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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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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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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