SKUNKS!

Master of revulsion Greenberg (Bugs, not reviewed, etc.) takes on skunks, to the merriment of his audience. "The stunkiest stank ever to stink / The stankiest stink to stunk / Far worse than a moldy garbage can / When you reach down and scoop out the gunk." Yes, the unforgettable stink of a skunk. Munsinger (Tacky and the Emperor, 2000, etc.) traipses right along behind Greenberg, following his every move, sharply animating her characters. Her colors are muted to the point of appearing washed out, so it takes the facial expressions and the comic scenarios to carry the page. Note particularly the double-paged spread of a wedding scene filled with skunk guests, a bed made completely of piles of the fuzzies, or the slapstick squirrel that's been zapped. Greenberg's scuzzy humor, on the other hand, never flags: "But the stink of a skunk / I always have thunk / Is more than a sweet bouquet / There are numerous other things (that a punk) / Can do with the heavenly spray." And he goes on to enumerate them in great detail and at the expense of sounding like a one-note song. There are times that his inventiveness fails him—“Skunks make superior sprinklers / For watering your grass" and "A hovercraft of squirting skunks / Take it for a ride" are particularly desperate—yet mostly Greenberg manages to make the fragrant nightlifer an object of mirth and high-spirited language. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-316-32606-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2001

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Lit with sweetness.

SHARE SOME KINDNESS, BRING SOME LIGHT

Coco, who loves her gentle friend Bear, is shocked to learn that the other forest animals do not know about his kindness.

Inspired by one of her grandmother’s favorite maxims, Coco, a girl with light brown skin and curly brown hair, works with Bear to “share some kindness [and] bring some light” to the other animals in the forest. Interpreting it literally, the two make cookies (kindness) and lanterns (light) to share with the other animals. They trek through the snow-covered forest to deliver their gifts, but no one trusts Bear enough to accept them. As night begins to fall, Bear and Coco head home with the lanterns and cookies. On the way through the quiet forest, they hear a small voice pleading for help; it’s Baby Deer, stuck in the snow. They help free him, and Bear gives the young one a ride home on his back. When the other animals see both that Baby Deer is safe and that Bear is responsible for this, they begin to recognize all the wonderful things about Bear that they had not noticed before. The episode is weak on backstory—how did Coco and Bear become friends? Why don’t the animals know Bear better by now?—but Stott’s delicately inked and colored illustrations offer beguiling views of lightly anthropomorphized woodland critters that make it easy to move past these stumbling blocks. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 67% of actual size.)

Lit with sweetness. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6238-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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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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