MY FRIEND LUCKY

A deceptively simple exploration of opposites, illustrated by the relationship between a boy and his dog, Lucky. Milgrim’s (Patrick’s Dinosaurs on the Internet, 1999, etc.) cartoony illustrations depict a Charlie Brown–like round-headed boy and his genial brown dog as they demonstrate a series of opposites on succeeding double-page spreads. “Lucky gives / Lucky gets [kisses]” “Lucky’s sad / Lucky’s happy.” The two characters are surrounded by white space, with only the most necessary contextualizing details added. In the “Lucky’s hungry” picture, for instance, the viewer sees a table with a piece of cake and an excited Lucky; but when “Lucky’s full,” the dog is no longer to be seen, and the boy is left holding a carton of milk, his cake reduced to six crumbs. The “Lucky’s loud / Lucky’s quiet” spread features two nearly identical pictures of the boy doing his homework and Lucky barking (the dog’s mouth is open and little “bark” lines emerge, indicating noise)—the only difference is that in the “quiet” illustration, the boy is wearing earmuffs. Definitely not an introductory concept book, this offering clearly depends on a fairly sophisticated ability to decode the conventions of illustration. It is, however, a splendid primer in the art of visual irony, and its sly humor will have young readers chortling. It is also, of course, a love story; that the dog is not the only member of the pair who is lucky is amply illustrated on the endpapers, which reveal Lucky and his friend waking up together and then settling down for sleep in a happy heap on the boy’s bed. A winner, and not just for dog lovers. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-84253-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2001

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THIS BOOK IS GRAY

A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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