CLICK, CLACK, QUACK TO SCHOOL!

From the Click Clack Book series

“On Monday, Duck brought a letter to Farmer Brown. Some of it was written in crayon.”

The crayoned interpolation to the typewritten invitation to visit Dinkelmeyer Elementary School reads: “Bring the animals, too!” Farmer Brown tells the cows to get ready, setting off much stomping and mooing; killjoy Farmer Brown then tells them that “school is very quiet,” which lessens their excitement. Similarly, after getting the chickens excited, Farmer Brown tells them that “school is very serious,” and he tells the pigs that “school is very calm.” When he finds Duck, the fowl is meditating on a yoga pillow; he is told “not to be so Duck-y.” It’s a solemn bunch that pulls up at school—but when the schoolyard fills with boisterous youngsters, the animals loosen right up, mooing and stomping, clucking and clapping, oinking and hollering. Duck, of course is “just Duck-y,” installing himself at the principal’s desk. This latest entry in the venerable series offers a few chuckles and opportunities for children to moo, cluck, and oink, but the delicious overturning of expectations earlier entries have provided here feels just as flat as the animals’ emotions. Readers new to the series won’t know why Duck shouldn’t be “Duck-y,” making that extended joke one for insiders only. Farmer Brown is white; the children, seen only on one double-page spread, are diverse, and one of them uses a wheelchair.

Not ducky. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1449-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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Hee haw.

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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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A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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