The story looks beautiful, but the depths of the issue are never plumbed.

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MONKEY AND THE LITTLE ONE

A mouse disturbs a monkey’s tranquility but soon turns from irksome to indispensable in Alexander’s tale of friendship’s often strange course.

First, however, the artwork: a lovely combination of media creates landscapes and companionable characters in a broad range of sunny (if not particularly jungly) pastels. The story: Monkey lives alone in the jungle (“he liked it that way”), munching on bananas, reading in the crook of a tree limb, swimming in the cool, cool water of the lake. Little One (a mouse) appears, unbidden and unwanted. Monkey politely asks him to scram. Mouse is not conversant with “monkey-speak,” so he blithely settles in under Monkey’s hammock. Little One follows Monkey everywhere, innocently mimicking him (except for the bananas: “Yuck!”) and holding out peace offering after peace offering. Finally, Monkey erupts: “Leave me alone!”; and Little One does. Monkey finds himself discomfited. It’s not remorse or loneliness but something ineffable: “somehow it didn’t feel the same as before.” Monkey goes in search of Little One and welcomes him back. “The Little One still followed Monkey everywhere...but somehow Monkey didn’t mind anymore.” Somehow—but what changed Monkey’s mind? Sharing company can be a complicated, contradictory, confusing (dis)pleasure, but “somehow” doesn’t pass muster. There is nothing here for young readers to hang their hats on, no takeaway.

The story looks beautiful, but the depths of the issue are never plumbed. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4549-1580-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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

DADDIES ARE AWESOME

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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