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ERROL AND HIS EXTRAORDINARY NOSE

The message may be a standard one, but its vehicle is particularly friendly and comforting to younger children. All the other animals on the playground think that Errol the elephant is clumsy and has a silly nose, but after reading a book about elephants that provides some empowering information he wows an audience of peers and parents at a talent show by using his trunk as a hand, a snorkel and a hose. Off he goes to show his book to fascinated classmates, sharing “the best talent of all…making friends.” While the message and outcome are no big surprise, Conway includes audience-pleasing details: The teacher is a tortoise (of course), a chorus of finches singing to an orchestra of meerkats and “Abraham the Anaconda ate two hundred pancakes.” The animal cast members look like plush toys in Angaramo’s big, simple, coarsely brushed paintings, and smiles outnumber tears by a wide margin. A big bowl of literary chicken soup for any calf in need of a dose of self-confidence. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2262-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2010

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BECAUSE YOUR DADDY LOVES YOU

Give this child’s-eye view of a day at the beach with an attentive father high marks for coziness: “When your ball blows across the sand and into the ocean and starts to drift away, your daddy could say, Didn’t I tell you not to play too close to the waves? But he doesn’t. He wades out into the cold water. And he brings your ball back to the beach and plays roll and catch with you.” Alley depicts a moppet and her relaxed-looking dad (to all appearances a single parent) in informally drawn beach and domestic settings: playing together, snuggling up on the sofa and finally hugging each other goodnight. The third-person voice is a bit distancing, but it makes the togetherness less treacly, and Dad’s mix of love and competence is less insulting, to parents and children both, than Douglas Wood’s What Dads Can’t Do (2000), illus by Doug Cushman. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 23, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-00361-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2005

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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