High-interest topic; low-budget production.

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WOW, I DIDN'T KNOW THAT!

SURPRISING FACTS ABOUT ANIMALS

Surrounded by pithy commentary, dozens of common animals bound, stride, swim or otherwise pose against high-contrast monochrome backdrops in this unvarnished attempt to amaze.

Both facts and factoids are offered in a mix of floating text blocks and undulating lines in a larger size. The tidbits of natural history range from peculiar features (“Goats have rectangular pupils!”) to notes on common sizes or weights, feats of speed or migratory travel. Much of the need-to-know “information” centers on alimentary issues, such as the amount of poop an elephant produces every day (110 pounds) and how long it takes a gobbled-down fly to travel through a hummingbird (10 minutes). But the author provides no source notes to expand on or back up her claims. Furthermore, though Aspinall arranges his smiling but recognizably depicted creatures in loosely thematic groups with the occasional paw or tail serving as transition to the next spread, there is no sense of closure; a tiger’s face cut off by the gutter on the last page brings the presentation to an abrupt end.

High-interest topic; low-budget production. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7534-7117-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kingfisher

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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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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