A cache of better rhyming pattern books is available.

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RHYMES WITH DOUG

An anonymous gift of a rhyming parrot sets off a precarious adventure for a young boy.

Doug, a redheaded, freckle-faced white boy, and his friend, a black girl with pom-pom pigtails who’s not seen again until the end of the book, notice a mysterious package by the mailbox. Out comes Otto, a deceptively cute, green parrot that speaks in rhyme—to magical effect. “DOUG HUG” produces a warm embrace from Otto. “DOUG MUG” elicits a hot cup of cocoa. Then the rhymes become creepy as the magic begins to go awry. “DOUG SLUG” and “DOUG BUG” transform Doug, quite upset, into each creature, respectively. Pleas from Doug to change him back to a boy succeed—with complications: “DOUG DUG. / DOUG RUG” take him from an underground cave to a magic carpet ride above the city, finally culminating with the boy safely in bed… “DOUG SNUG…BUG…RUG….” Thompson’s digitally created cartoon drawings in bold colors are reminiscent of a comic strip, and the format mixes narrative with speech bubbles to extend the familiar idiom, using wordplay and a graduated larger font indicating urgency. Simple digital backgrounds give way to photographic panoramas as Doug soars over the city. The absurd humor and haphazard context for the rhyme pattern make this book less skillfully predictable and balanced as such offerings as Nancy Shaw’s Sheep series for emerging readers.

A cache of better rhyming pattern books is available. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7095-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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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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Aims high but just doesn’t get there.

LITTLE FOX AND THE WILD IMAGINATION

Beware the imagination that cannot be contained.

When Poppa Fox comes to pick his son up after school he finds Little Fox a complete grump. Happily, Poppa Fox knows just the way to perk up his kiddo. One minute they’re pretending to be race cars, the next they’re dinos on the bus, and then later they’re blasting off to outer space to grab some ice cream. Unfortunately, all that sugar before dinner means that Little Fox’s imagination is now primed to go haywire. Now he’s a robo squid destroying a broccoli forest (rather than eating his dinner), then a shark devouring his dad, who is driving a mail truck (that is, splashing way too much in the tub). Things calm down by bedtime, but when Poppa Fox tells his son he will pick him up again the next day, Little Fox already has big plans. As books built on the power of imagination go, this story starts out strong but loses steam about the time Little Fox loses his focus. Santat’s art does more than its fair share of the heavy lifting, particularly when Little Fox’s imagination is supposed to go off the rails. Madcap adventure never looked this fun. Yet the book can’t quite nail the landing, shifting tone from one page turn to the next, leaving readers ultimately unsatisfied. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 33.8% of actual size.)

Aims high but just doesn’t get there. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21250-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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