The book fails to address the roots of Goat’s bad temper or his turnaround, equating them with dandelions in the wind, and...

GRUMPY GOAT

An out-of-sorts goat goes back and forth between grumpy and happy in this slight tale with a murky message.

Formerly a friendly farm, Sunny Acres changes with the arrival of Goat, who has never had a friend before. “He was hungry. He was grumpy. He didn’t want to share.” He spurns the other animals’ friendly overtures and focuses on scowling and eating. But the lone dandelion in full bloom at the top of Sunrise Hill stops him in his tracks—it “remind[s] him of something.” He provides water and keeps the grass around it trimmed neatly. Most notably, when the other animals approach, he doesn’t chase them away or scowl, finally making friends. But his melancholy returns when the dandelion turns into a fragile puff that disappears in the breeze. Unable to cheer him up, his farmyard friends keep him company…until those scattered seeds bear fruit, bathing the hillside in yellow-flower sunshine. Helquist’s acrylic-and-oil illustrations fail to take advantage of the obvious interplay of emotions, the palette remaining overly dark throughout most of the pages. The cartoonish animals speak volumes with their comical facial expressions, though this adds to the facile treatment of Goat’s moodiness.

The book fails to address the roots of Goat’s bad temper or his turnaround, equating them with dandelions in the wind, and may leave readers feeling grumpy with the lack of a true problem or solution. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-113953-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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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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Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed.

YOU DON'T WANT A DRAGON!

If you thought having a unicorn as a pet was hard, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tried owning a dragon.

The young protagonist of You Don’t Want a Unicorn! (2017) is back, and they clearly haven’t learned their lesson. Now they’ve wished for a pet dragon. As the intrusive narrator is quick to point out, everything about it seems fun at the beginning. However, it’s not long before the doglike dragon starts chasing squirrels, drooling, pooping (ever wondered where charcoal comes from?), scooting its butt across the floor (leaving fire and flames behind), and more. By now, the dragon has grown too huge to keep, so the child (who appears white and also to live alone) wishes it away and settles for a cute little hamster instead. A perfect pet…until it finds a stray magical cupcake. Simple cartoon art and a surfeit of jokes about defecation suggest this book will find an appreciative audience. The dragon/dog equivalences are cute on an initial read, but they may not be strong enough to convince anyone to return. Moreover, a surprising amount of the plot hinges on having read the previous book in this series (it’s the only way readers will know that cupcakes are unicorn poop).

Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53580-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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