Give grumpy Gus and his positive puppy pal another sausage and invite them back for a sequel.

READ REVIEW

THIS IS GUS

A grumpy basset hound is unhappy with his life until a puppy arrives to cheer him up.

Gus has grouch written all over him. His brow is furrowed, his eyes are glowering, and his posture is stiff and unyielding. He “doesn’t like much of anything,” including walks, sticks, balls, and making friends. He doesn’t even enjoy his own birthday party. Midway through this litany of woes, a perky basset pup shows up as one of the birthday presents. The unnamed puppy is revealed as the first-person narrator of the story, changing the negative focus to a positive one. The appealing pup declares that Gus now likes activities such as bathtime and hide-and-seek, though the looks on Gus’ face don’t match that narrative. The surprising climax involves a huge bowl of sausages, with the gradually thawing Gus saving just one sausage for the hopeful young dog. Comical illustrations use bold shapes and bright colors against uncluttered backgrounds, and sausages decorate the endpapers in an amusing touch. The simple story has a droll, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor that will be understood by preschoolers and appreciated by older children as well. This funny tale has wide appeal, from younger children just learning to listen to a real story to beginning readers who can decode the easy, repetitive text.

Give grumpy Gus and his positive puppy pal another sausage and invite them back for a sequel. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09736-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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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