A clever, humorous approach to the world of letters, words, and literacy.

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CAT AND DOG'S ALPHABET

When Dog spots the letters of the alphabet floating overhead and is not sure what they might be, Cat interrupts a bath to explain what the letters are for and how they are used.

With a certain sardonic wit, knowledgeable Cat demonstrates to the less-informed Dog how letters are rearranged to make words. Cat begins to poke the letters with a stick, and after they come crashing down, some on Dog’s head (“Ouch! You did that on purpose”), Dog begins to sweep them away. “These things are dangerous.” Cat quickly interrupts to show how they can begin to put the letters together. “Let’s try spelling our names.” This results in a cheeky, literal “our names,” which prompts Dog to attempt a version with “dat and cog.” Cat then creates a long affirmative statement: “letters can make words that are brilliant and awesome or dark and scary or sunny and happy or rainy and sad.” (The arrangement of these block letters on a double-page spread may require a moment or two to parse.) Dog complains, weeping and pounding the floor: “BUT IT’S ALL SO COMPLICATED!” Yet Cat, armed with a stack of books, asserts the best thing to be done with letters is to make lots of words. Black-and-white cartoon art against a very stark white backdrop extends this duo’s banter. Splashes of color add emphasis, such as Cat’s large stack of colorfully covered books.

A clever, humorous approach to the world of letters, words, and literacy. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1096-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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