A rare if not unwelcome agnostic rumination.

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ME & DOG

The misplaced worship of man’s best friend perturbs its young master.

Sid loves Murphy and thinks he’s just about the best dog in the world. Murphy loves Sid too, but Sid has noticed a disturbing fact about his pet. Murphy doesn’t just love Sid—he worships him like a god. In rhyming verse Sid explains how Murphy will apologize when his owner is the one clearly at fault. He thinks Sid rewards his good behavior and punishes his bad with events (rain, a lovely day) that are clearly outside the boy’s control. Saying he’s not a supreme being (and maybe there isn’t one at all), the boy wrestles with the canine’s religious convictions. Picture books questioning the very existence of the Almighty are rarities. It may well be that large swaths of the population will miss the book’s point, begging the question as to whether or not the children of atheists would embrace it at all. Additionally, an offhanded comment that refers to Murphy’s prayers as “silly” will give some readers pause. Shansby’s digital illustrations give a welcome, lighthearted feel to what might otherwise come off as too heavy a message. They march in step with Weingarten, though readers are left pondering the point of a conspicuous church that makes a cameo in the background of one page.

A rare if not unwelcome agnostic rumination. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-9413-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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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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