A chirpy pick-me-up tailor-made for sharing with one or many glum young listeners.



Bored or grumpy animals from Down Under get a lift from the Cheer-up Bird in this Dutch import. Now, who will cheer up the weary bird?

Three koalas so comically afflicted with ennui that they “were wondering / why they have to climb / and eat / and breathe” hang listlessly from tree branches. Enter the Cheer-up Bird, exuberant of plumage and hue, to trace hearts in the air and put the suddenly bright-eyed furry gents on to a trio of coy koala ladies. Likewise, the bird’s simple appearance is enough to bring three grumpy wombat sibs together for a shared project, lift the spirits of a depressed kangaroo monarch as two kangaroo musicians toot didgeridoos, and gather all the animals together to jolly a pair of elderly emus out of the blahs. The Schuberts make deft use of palette, presenting the cranky animals against muted brown, gray, or lavender backgrounds, then brightening them to sunny yellows, oranges, and blues. Then the droopy bird flaps back to her nest, flying from bright yellow into gloomy grays as the onlooking animals worry that she may not be able to work tomorrow. Fear not: back at her nest, her spirits are recharged by her own flock of little “cheery Cheer-up Bird Birdies!”

A chirpy pick-me-up tailor-made for sharing with one or many glum young listeners. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-935954-45-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lemniscaat USA

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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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.


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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