A fascinating look at dads in the animal world who behave similarly to human dads.

WILD ABOUT DADS

Three human dads bookend this list of things animal dads do for their children, and readers will find them all to be very familiar.

“Dads can help you reach up high, // and help to keep you warm and dry.” These two double-page spreads show, first, a marmoset with a baby on his back reaching for some red berries and then penguin dads with their chicks on their feet. Some anthropomorphization creeps in with eagle dads, who “like fishing,” and prairie dog dads, who enjoy “playing games, like hide-and-seek.” Among the author’s unusual animal choices are pelicans, sandhill cranes, African wild dogs, poison dart frogs, and bearded emperor tamarins. A final spread in the backmatter shows a vignette illustration of each species and one to three sentences of further information about the animals and their dad duties: “Sun-grebe dads carry young hatchlings in a pocket under their wings to keep them safe” (disappointingly, this is inaccurately depicted like a kangaroo’s pouch); “Marmoset dads groom, feed, and carry their babies on their backs.” This info will fascinate those young children with the patience to sit still to listen to this text-dense spread after the terse couplets. Alvarez’s full-bleed illustrations lightly anthropomorphize her animal subjects with smiles and some postures. The bright colors will attract an audience.

A fascinating look at dads in the animal world who behave similarly to human dads. (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-31574-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 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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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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