This Dutch import’s fatuous ending falls short, but the illustrations are worth the time spent appreciating them. (Picture...

UH-OH OCTOPUS!

A small yellow octopus is nonplussed to return home from his daily swim to find someone else’s tale protruding from his home.

The soft and expressive illustrations done in acrylic and oil pastels by van Hout (Surprise, 2014, etc.) are the highlight of what could have been a noteworthy story about the pitfalls of jumping to conclusions. Flitting among his concerned friends, an endearingly expressive octopus searches for a solution to the very big intruder stuck in his doorway. The fishy suggestions run the gamut from “Chase him away!” to “Declare war on him.” As the story unfolds, the problem of what to do with the giant tail sticking out of Octopus’ home involves every sea creature in the neighborhood. After much deliberation, the little octopus hears whispered advice in the depths around him. “What would you do?” The sea seems to be urging him to listen to his intuition—which he does to his ultimate delight. Van Lieshout and van Os explore the extreme reactions fear and uncertainty can elicit. As is so often the case, a simple question could have prevented the escalating misunderstanding and turmoil. What makes the resolution unsatisfactory is that an entire scene seems to be missing—the reveal. One minute the friends struggle to pull out the mysterious tale à la “The Enormous Turnip,” and the next, there’s a smiling mermaid holding the besotted octopus. “ ‘Oh,’ Octopus blushed. ‘If I’d only known you were a lady! That’s different!’ ”

This Dutch import’s fatuous ending falls short, but the illustrations are worth the time spent appreciating them. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-9359-5439-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lemniscaat USA

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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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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