The affirming message offers an important lesson about the joys of heterogeneity, so young listeners will likely enjoy...

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SORREL AND THE SLEEPOVER

A little girl squirrel tries to hide the ways that she and her best friend are different.

Sorrel and Sage are simpatico school friends who love being alike. The trouble starts when Sage invites Sorrel to a sleepover. Sage’s home tree, a lush evergreen, is larger and houses lots more relatives than Sorrel’s. Ashamed and worried, Sorrel makes a series of creative excuses to avoid inviting Sage to her house. When their play takes them near Sorrel’s tree one day, however, Sage finds the old “broken and bumpy” cherry tree where Sorrel lives with her mother completely charming. Delightful ink-and-watercolor paintings create a cozy, decidedly British, and mostly old-fashioned world. The rabbit schoolteacher rings a hand bell, female characters are shown in skirts, and Sorrel and Sage carry satchels, but one picture shows a smartphone plugged in to charge. The airy, pastoral feel and engaging anthropomorphic characters keep the tone light and prevent the purposive plot from feeling preachy. The relatively lengthy text doesn’t quite measure up to the quality of the artwork; occasional rhymes seem out of place, and a lot of alliteration can make it somewhat awkward to read aloud.

The affirming message offers an important lesson about the joys of heterogeneity, so young listeners will likely enjoy making the acquaintance of Sorrel and Sage and pondering with them what makes a perfect friendship. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4380-5056-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Barron's

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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