Bubbling over with a singular charm of its own, this book will have kids going ape over the monkeyshines here.

READ REVIEW

MONKEY WALK

In this sparsely worded tale, an older sibling of messy twins turns out to be uniquely gifted at meeting the needs of a particularly prankish ape during a family trip to the zoo.

As their mother blithely attends to her phone rather than her offspring, it’s up to the protagonist to pick up the detritus of those pesky little sibs. Perhaps recognizing her eldest’s frustration, their mother encourages the beleaguered kid to climb up a rope trellis to something called the “Monkey Walk.” The protagonist complies only to find both hat and personal gaming device snatched by quick orange fingers, which is all readers see of the troublemaker till the end. Trades are suggested via signs held by various animals including (to the protagonist’s understandable, “Oh, you have got to be kidding” reaction) penguins for the device. The denouement reveals the thief to be a multitalented orangutan (not the titular “monkey,” but that’s neither here nor there). With a keen eye to the importance of detail, Madden immediately and easily sets the tone, the feel, and the characters. Refreshingly, the book avoids the proselytizing tone so many picture books succumb to when addressing the hand-held electronic world. Instead, this light and airy storytelling opts to show rather than tell. The protagonist’s family all present white, but other zoo visitors are diverse.

Bubbling over with a singular charm of its own, this book will have kids going ape over the monkeyshines here. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-88898-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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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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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