Winner of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2010 Opera Prima Mention, this design exercise is notable. But while...

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WOOF MEOW TWEET-TWEET

The differences among three animals—a dog, cat and bird—are explored in this sophisticated concept book that replaces character drawings with text representations.

Appealing, Modernist illustrations create lovely vignettes for the protagonists, who are depicted by the sounds they make. Each animal is assigned a specific typeface, the size, color and placement of which are altered to emphasize the various traits and emotions of its owner. In a cage, the bird’s “tweet-tweet” is small and controlled, but when he's free, his “tweet-tweet” runs broad and askew, soaring across the sky. Despite these text modifications, young readers may find it difficult to be continuously drawn to the personality or expressiveness of each character. Boyer tries to make up the difference with some playful potty jokes: "WOOF" tilts up against a brick wall, a trail of piddle coming from the "F." These may not be enough for the animal lover, who would prefer to see the majesty of an actual bird’s wings in flight. However, the artwork is attractive. Flat shapes done in a sophisticated, Pantone-catalog palette lend to Boyer’s hip and minimalist aesthetic. Her excellent graphic sensibility makes each spread worthy of a single print advertisement.

Winner of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2010 Opera Prima Mention, this design exercise is notable. But while intellectuals and college design students may find it brilliant, children may not find it particularly gratifying. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-934734-60-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Seven Footer Press

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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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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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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