Plot holes may mar the story a bit, but there’s plenty to dig anyway.

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MORRIS MOLE

Morris strikes out on his own in this story about an anthropomorphic, iconoclast mole.

Smaller than the rest and clad in a dapper suit rather than miners’ gear, Morris Mole’s suggestion falls on deaf ears when he voices an idea to improve his fellow moles’ lot. While his brothers’ focus is on digging ever deeper underground to find scarce food, Morris Mole decides to tunnel up through the earth. “I may be small, but I can do big things,” he tells himself as he digs deep within himself to find courage. When he emerges aboveground he finds a wonderland of not only food, but bird song, flowers, and friendly passers-by. An encounter with a fox almost dooms Morris, but then he (rather implausibly) saves the fox from a wolf, who, for some odd reason, just lets him be. This plot twist seems rather forced and lacking in logic, but the grateful fox then rallies others to collect a veritable feast for Morris Mole to bring back to his underground family. Yaccarino’s digital illustrations are bold and graphic, and they do an excellent job of contrasting the under- and aboveground worlds that Morris Mole traverses in his adventure of individuality and community.

Plot holes may mar the story a bit, but there’s plenty to dig anyway. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-241107-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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Hee haw.

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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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