A droll episode, with any lesson or moral beyond, maybe, “try, try again” absent or well-buried.

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HUNGRY ROSCOE

Persistence pays off for an urban raccoon determined to upgrade his garbage-based diet.

Weary of scrounging “rotten junk” from rubbish bins and hearing that the animals in the nearby zoo get fresh food every day, Roscoe tries to sneak in: first disguised as a tortoise beneath a green umbrella, then as a penguin with a pointy ice cream cone for a beak. Unsurprisingly, neither silly disguise fools the surly zookeeper. Finally, at the monkeys’ invitation, he steals the zookeeper’s keys to join them in their cage—whereupon they leave him chowing down and scamper off to set all the animals free. Chaos ensues. Done in a retro style with flatly applied, low-contrast colors, the cartoon illustrations are well-stocked with active, comically expressive figures. The narrative’s poker-faced tone (“ ‘That’s not for pests like you!’ growled the zookeeper. He was not a good-tempered man”) adds a similarly antique flavor. The locale isn’t specified beyond “a park in the middle of a big city,” but some of the skyscrapers visible beyond the zoo’s low walls may look familiar to young New Yorkers. In any case, at day’s end Roscoe generously offers the last banana in the bucket to the frazzled zookeeper and saunters off with a belch.

A droll episode, with any lesson or moral beyond, maybe, “try, try again” absent or well-buried. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-909263-53-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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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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The goose is all that’s serious here…and that not for long.

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THE SERIOUS GOOSE

Bet you can’t make this goose smile, no matter how hard you try.

TV personality Kimmel’s first foray into picture books presents a feathered grump with a scowl that is proof against any kind of foolery: Try putting a chicken on her head, dressing her as a moose, or even trucking in a snail pizza—this goose won’t crack. Breaking now and again into verse, he challenges readers to give it a try in a foil mirror: “Cluck like a chicken / moo like a cow / be doofy, be goofy / any way you know how”—and sure enough, eventually a grin bursts out to replace the grimace despite a multipage struggle to hold it in, and off prances the goose in a pair of (gender-bending) tighty whities. Yes, she’s become “a SILLY goose (thanks to you),” the narrator proclaims, and what’s more, “YOU are a silly kid.” A hand-lettered narrative in block printing big enough to take up most of the space accompanies thick-lined cartoon views of a goosey glare that dares readers to crank up the volume, and the last page turn reveals a final tweak that may add a few grown-up voices to the younger chorus of giggles.

The goose is all that’s serious here…and that not for long. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-70775-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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