A deceptively subtle thought-provoker for preschoolers.

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A HOLE IN THE WALL

Four round and rubbery cartoon African animals—a wild dog, a warthog, a lion, and an elephant—find what seems to be a hole in the wall.

Round-eyed with excitement, each runs back to its fellows to report that the previous observer was wrong about what it observed. The dog finds the hole first: he sees a dog in it. The warthog sees a warthog, and so on. Alert children will catch on to this from the first image. (Spoiler alert: it’s a mirror.) At the end, when all four buddies (only the elephant is tagged as female) realize they are all correct and view themselves together in the mirror, “Everyone was happy because everyone was right!” The type is large and bold and uses color to highlight various words; all the colors have a smooth and slick feel to them. The story is based on a Mark Twain fable, which is reproduced in all of its fustian glory in three pages of text at the end. The moral of that tale is actually somewhat different from Wilhelm’s version and will prepare young readers for deconstructionist literary criticism in their later years, but the whole makes a fairly good read-aloud with very few words.

A deceptively subtle thought-provoker for preschoolers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3535-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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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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