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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A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning.

THE MAGICAL YET

Children realize their dreams one step at a time in this story about growth mindset.

A child crashes and damages a new bicycle on a dark, rainy day. Attempting a wheelie, the novice cyclist falls onto the sidewalk, grimacing, and, having internalized this setback as failure, vows to never ride again but to “walk…forever.” Then the unnamed protagonist happens upon a glowing orb in the forest, a “thought rearranger-er”—a luminous pink fairy called the Magical Yet. This Yet reminds the child of past accomplishments and encourages perseverance. The second-person rhyming couplets remind readers that mistakes are part of learning and that with patience and effort, children can achieve. Readers see the protagonist learn to ride the bike before a flash-forward shows the child as a capable college graduate confidently designing a sleek new bike. This book shines with diversity: racial, ethnic, ability, and gender. The gender-indeterminate protagonist has light brown skin and exuberant curly locks; Amid the bustling secondary cast, one child uses a prosthesis, and another wears hijab. At no point in the text is the Yet defined as a metaphor for a growth mindset; adults reading with younger children will likely need to clarify this abstract lesson. The artwork is powerful and detailed—pay special attention to the endpapers that progress to show the Yet at work.

A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02562-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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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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