The clever premise of this well-worked-out story is likely to appeal as much to adults as to the children they get to share...

ANIMALS DON'T, SO I WON'T!

A knowledgeable mother turns the tables on her balky son by pointing out what animals DO.

As the appealing cover shows, animal-loving Ben likes to pretend he’s wild himself. He won't clean his room until his mother reminds him that as a beetle, he'll have to clean up elephant dung. He pretends to be a penguin that won’t eat his lasagna until his mother pretends to barf up fish for him. And so forth. The animals and their actions are well-chosen for child appeal. Pen-and-ink drawings with watercolor wash combine realistic images with the fantasy of this parent-child game. Both the people and the creatures in Derrick's art have plenty of attitude. The pace of storytelling varies. Most episodes take two double-page spreads, but others conclude more quickly. Although the narrative threatens to end predictably, with baby chimps rocking in their bedtime nests, there’s a surprise: Dawn comes early for roosters. The parent-child dialogue is indicated by different typefaces, and the illustrations include irresistible animal noises from Bzztt! to Oohh Eee Ooh, just asking for repeat listeners to chime in.

The clever premise of this well-worked-out story is likely to appeal as much to adults as to the children they get to share it with. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59702-029-9

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Immedium

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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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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Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed.

YOU DON'T WANT A DRAGON!

If you thought having a unicorn as a pet was hard, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tried owning a dragon.

The young protagonist of You Don’t Want a Unicorn! (2017) is back, and they clearly haven’t learned their lesson. Now they’ve wished for a pet dragon. As the intrusive narrator is quick to point out, everything about it seems fun at the beginning. However, it’s not long before the doglike dragon starts chasing squirrels, drooling, pooping (ever wondered where charcoal comes from?), scooting its butt across the floor (leaving fire and flames behind), and more. By now, the dragon has grown too huge to keep, so the child (who appears white and also to live alone) wishes it away and settles for a cute little hamster instead. A perfect pet…until it finds a stray magical cupcake. Simple cartoon art and a surfeit of jokes about defecation suggest this book will find an appreciative audience. The dragon/dog equivalences are cute on an initial read, but they may not be strong enough to convince anyone to return. Moreover, a surprising amount of the plot hinges on having read the previous book in this series (it’s the only way readers will know that cupcakes are unicorn poop).

Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53580-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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