Anodyne at best. (Picture book. 3-7)



Marlon Bundo, a black-and-white rabbit, helps out Grampa—the vice president—on what is represented as a typical day.

From “freshly brewed coffee” delivered by the Naval Enlisted Aides to “one little prayer before bed,” Marlon Bundo narrates the day’s events. In the West Wing, Grampa and Marlon start off with “the most important meeting…. / That’s the one with the president!” Then they head to the Capitol, “where Grampa presides over a vote.” (Which tie-breaking vote is not mentioned, so readers can imagine whether it’s confirming Betsy DeVos, gutting the Affordable Care Act, or some future controversy.) They then meet with “people from across America” with “questions and problems. / And Grampa helps answer each one.” Then it’s back to the Naval Observatory for a quick squint through its telescope, a phone call from “the president!” and a quiet reading of the Bible. Karen Pence is a competent watercolorist, creating double-page spreads that depict Marlon Bundo hopping through clearly recognizable, famous scenes. Save a white Secret Service agent who’s shown opening Grampa’s limo door, humans are depicted mostly as feet or hands, none of them of color. Charlotte Pence’s verse is frankly execrable, torturing syntax and introducing nonsensical detail in order to maintain rhyme and meter. Additional information is offered in three pages of notes misleadingly labeled “resources.” Proceeds go to A21 and Tracy's Kids.

Anodyne at best. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62157-776-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Regnery Kids

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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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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Daddy-and-child dog lovers can try some of these canine ways of expressing affection.


Puppies celebrate the many ways their dads are awesome.

“Daddies are playful. / They swing you around. // You ride on their shoulders / or hang upside down.” The first spread pictures a scruffy pup, mouth clamped on its dad’s tail, hanging. The second features a long dachshund, his four pups using the large expanse of his back as a jungle gym or resting spot. The husky dad is labeled as daring, brave, and strong, while the hound takes his pup on adventures (digging and hiding under a bush). Other dog dads give kisses and tickles, tell bedtime stories and help count sheep (a stuffed toy), and help their pups grow (challenging them with stairs and carrying them when the going gets tough). Lovšin creatively interprets some of the text that applies well to kids but not so well to canines: dad and pup at each end of a long stick held in their mouths is the dog equivalent of holding hands. Though many dog breeds will be familiar, some are just mutts, though all are shown caring for and enjoying the company of their offspring. White backgrounds keep the focus on the dogs.

Daddy-and-child dog lovers can try some of these canine ways of expressing affection. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-452-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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