Children and hotels don’t seem like a natural fit, but Malin’s superb and ingenious photographs should amuse a broad range...

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Take a tour of the famous Parker Hotel, where there’s a lot of horseplay…and camel play, and lion play, and….

Vivid digital photographs depict a bevy of animals wandering around the hotel and its grounds. Maurice, the concierge, welcomes you. He’s an expressive monkey in a red fez. “HOP over,” and get a key from Wally the desk clerk, who’s a kangaroo. The owner, Mr. Parker, is a majestic lion. A camel stands near the pool, then roams the halls, looking for her room. (She’s a guest, and her name is Callie.) There’s an ostrich playing tennis, flamingos having a party, and an elephant named Eliza charging down a path surrounded by tall hedges and studded with colorful balloons. The pastry chef is a small white pig named Pierre; he has baked the guests some delicious treats, which Maurice is happy to serve. Expressive Maurice can be spotted all over the complex, fiddling with the TV remote, snuggling in a king-size bed, playing ping-pong. He also waves goodbye to readers at the end of this tour of the Parker. The text, which arbitrarily capitalizes various words, reads like the voice-over it essentially is. An author’s note explains that the real Parker Hotel in Palm Springs inspired his work and informs readers that the animals were photographed in situ.

Children and hotels don’t seem like a natural fit, but Malin’s superb and ingenious photographs should amuse a broad range of readers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2930-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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Hee haw.

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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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Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale.

YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL

From the You Are (Not) Small series

Fuzzy, bearlike creatures of different sizes relate to one another in an amusing story that explores the relative nature of size.

A small purple creature meets a similarly shaped but much larger orange critter. The purple creature maintains that the orange creature is “big”; the orange one counters by calling the purple one “small.” This continues, devolving into a very funny shouting match, pages full of each type of creature hollering across the gutter. This is followed by a show-stopping double-page spread depicting two huge, blue legs and the single word “Boom!” in huge display type. Tiny, pink critters then float down by parachute, further complicating the size comparisons. Eventually, these brightly colored animals learn to see things in a different way. In the end, they decide they are all hungry and trudge off to eat together. The story is told effectively with just a few words per page, though younger readers might need help understanding the size and perspective concepts. Cartoon-style illustrations in ink and watercolor use simple shapes with heavy black outlines set off by lots of white space, with an oversized format and large typeface adding to the spare but polished design. While the story itself seems simple, the concepts are pertinent to several important social issues such as bullying and racism, as well as understanding point of view.

Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4772-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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