This is a running gag that, sadly, just keeps running.

NO PARTY POOPERS!

This picture book begins by listing every stereotype about every type of animal and ends by tearing them all down.

The color-coded dialogue starts with the words “Hey, let’s have a party!” but the panda who’s hosting rejects every guest its brown-bear co-host wants to invite. “The Lions?” the brown bear suggests in black type. “Always take more than their fair share,” the panda scoffs in blue. “The Peacocks?” ventures the brown bear. “Show-offs!” This pattern leads up to the only possible moral. Having given up on hosting a party, the two end up at a different party that surprises the panda: “Why didn’t you tell me our neighbors were so much fun? They weren’t at all like I expected!” It’s touching, but there are two problems. One is that the dialogue attribution is not always clear; the other is that the author tries to speak up for just about every species on Earth. A single page halfway through the book features beavers, hippos, kangaroos, and shrews. This would seem to be an illustrator’s dream job, but the animals look strangely generic. Far too many of them have pear-shaped bodies, as though they were all traced from the same template. And the pages feel a little too cramped. There are just too many monkeys in this barrel of monkeys.

This is a running gag that, sadly, just keeps running. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0988-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bee

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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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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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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