The strangeness of the art and writing may draw a few readers.

A LION AND WHALE CAN DANCE

A scraggly-looking bird brings two lonely creatures together on a moonlit beach in this offbeat tale.

The bird narrates in an affected mix of prose and verse—“It was then that I heard the brush shuffle and saw the dust fumble. I smelled large teeth and felt a slight rumble! Was it a lion? Oh yes! Oh yes! Now I see.” With an optional audio, the tattered-looking avian describes persuading Mowly the lion and Khody the whale to meet after listening separately to their rhymed whining. In gloomy, distorted illustrations that resemble Mervyn Peake’s art (Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor, 2001, the Gormenghast trilogy, etc.), both animals, rendered with wildly exaggerated proportions, radiate misery even during the climactic wordless pirouette that demonstrates the titular proposition. Their arranged tryst is likely to be less interesting to younger audiences than a resettable side game in which the author places 30 smaller animals in various scenes to be tapped and “collected” to open a hidden coloring page. Most scenes also feature minor animations and sound effects.

The strangeness of the art and writing may draw a few readers. (iPad storybook app. 5-7, adult)

Pub Date: April 28, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Arcade Sunshine Media

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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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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JOHNNY APPLESEED

Though she never says outright that he was a real person, Kurtz introduces newly emergent readers to the historical John Chapman, walking along the Ohio, planting apple seeds, and bartering seedlings to settlers for food and clothing. Haverfield supplies the legendary portions of his tale, with views of a smiling, stylishly ragged, clean-shaven young man, pot on head, wildlife on shoulder or trailing along behind. Kurtz caps her short, rhythmic text with an invitation to “Clap your hands for Johnny Chapman. / Clap your hands for Johnny Appleseed!” An appealing way to open discussions of our country’s historical or legendary past. (Easy reader/nonfiction. 5-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-85958-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

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