Sweetly celebrates artistic bonding in the Big Apple.

HERMAN AND ROSIE

In bustling New York, anthropomorphic croc Herman and Rosie (a goat?) inhabit parallel lives until they discover they’re soul mates.

They live in tiny apartments in adjacent buildings. Herman plays oboe and sells “things” in a call center—until he’s canned for not selling enough of them. Rosie’s a restaurant dishwasher who takes singing lessons and gigs at a jazz club on Thursdays—until it’s shuttered. In pictures and text, Gordon cleverly foretells the pair’s entwined destiny, engaging readers conspiratorially as Herman and Rosie continually almost connect. Each, hearing the other’s music by chance, is mesmerized for days. Both love “watching films about the ocean” and turn to Cousteau documentaries for solace after their twin career setbacks. Traipsing the city (Gordon provides a map and key for their concurrent rambles), they simultaneously buy hot dogs from the same vendor—without meeting. Finally, Rosie hears “the familiar sounds of a groovy little jazz number” and leaps “to follow that tune.” The penultimate double-page spread shows them meeting—at last!—on Herman’s roof against a luminous full moon. The final page shows they’ve formed a quartet—The Cousteaus. Gordon utilizes vintage postcards, ledgers and maps to create collaged tableaux. Evocative of William Steig and Bernard Waber, the pictures at their best juxtapose New York’s duality: its cacophonous enormity and charming intimacy.

Sweetly celebrates artistic bonding in the Big Apple. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59643-856-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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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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