In the end, there are plenty of odd-couple picture books already available. Consider this only for a readership ravenous for...

READ REVIEW

RAT AND ROACH

FRIENDS TO THE END

Best friends don’t always get along is the well-worn lesson of this tale of philosophically opposed urban pests. 

Rat and Roach are buds, but they can certainly get on each other's nerves. While casual Rat enjoys swimming through crud, making a mess and farting, the surprisingly meticulous Roach prefers tidiness, flower scents and (in the case of his cooking) originality. So can these two friends make up after a big fight? Readers won’t spend a whole lot of time wondering, since the fight feels fairly arbitrary—if readers can spot it at all. The narrative opens with a lengthy, present-tense description of the friends' differences, then shifts to the past tense with what seems to be the aftermath of a specific but unseen argument, making it feel like a tension-free gag rather than a story. Covell’s talents lie in his art, his book filled to brimming with spray-paint drips, clouds of noxious fumes and humorous details; the image of the two grumpy friends brushing their teeth in parallel is laugh-out-loud funny. But without a story, the illustrations, which are mostly displayed against a pure-white or light-gray background, aren't enough to raise the book from merely okay to new and interesting.

In the end, there are plenty of odd-couple picture books already available. Consider this only for a readership ravenous for city-critter fiction. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-01409-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2012

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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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