This weird pig's unsatisfying story perhaps should have stayed a mystery.

THE PIG'S HEAD RAVINE

The mystery of a porcine stranger who steals food in the night is solved in a spookily crafted story from Chile.

Two boys, Rafa and Juan, accustomed to playing in the hills after dark, encounter a scary creature, one who has been raiding their town for food. The culprit is revealed to be the Pig's Head, who stands upright and wears clothes but is otherwise just a very hungry pig. Despite some design flourishes and an animation style that makes the pencil art layered with color appear to pop off the page, the story itself is a mess. Some uncomfortable hypotheses about the creature’s origin are explored (yes, that means implied bestiality), and many parents of younger readers won't be thrilled with a page with the sentence, "Hes [sic] ugly as Hell!" Text on an opening page is either badly translated or just poorly written: "One evening, the children found a scary creature, from which they have always heard, but never believed that existed, until then." The clever bits, such as a page with a variety of animals to colorize by touch, are outweighed by clunky storytelling. The app's sole extra feature, a song performed by the titular monster, completely fails to engage.

This weird pig's unsatisfying story perhaps should have stayed a mystery. (Requires iOS 7 and above.) (iPad storybook app. 5-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Cangrejo Ideas

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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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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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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