This sweet and silly story is about friendship and making the best of what you’ve got.

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TOUGH COOKIE

A CHRISTMAS STORY

A modern twist on “The Gingerbread Man,” with Fox chasing the Sugar Cookie Man through Christmastown.

The Land of Holiday Treats is peopled with smiling cupcakes, cookies, and other sweets that bustle through the festive town. The action begins when out of the Christmastown bakery flies a very cute cookie past Fox, saying “Run, run, as fast as you can! / You can’t catch me—I’m the Sugar Cookie Man!” Fox gives chase and catches up to him quickly only to discover, to the surprise of them both, that the Sugar Cookie Man isn’t sweet at all—instead, he’s a terrible-tasting, tough cookie. Fox tries to cheer the distraught baked good up with “sugary sweet Christmas carols” and by sprinkling him with sugar, to no avail. It turns out that the Sugar Cookie Man is actually a tree ornament and not meant for eating. In tone and style, this book is reminiscent of Lane Smith and Jon Scieszka’s fairy-tale retellings, though with less wisecracking. The fun is in the size of the round-eyed characters, the icinglike pastel colors, the layout and pacing of the storyline on the page, and the variety of candy and cookie characters, all smiling away. The author, a grandson of Ernest Hemingway, provides recipes for tough cookies (edible) and tough cookie ornaments (nonedible).

This sweet and silly story is about friendship and making the best of what you’ve got. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62779-441-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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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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