TINA AND THE PENGUIN

A penguin stages a breakout from the zoo, aided and abetted by young Tina, in this toast to good intentions, no matter they go astray. On a school visit to the zoo, Tina finds herself being followed by a penguin—“schlep, schlep”—who wordlessly conveys to her his intent to escape. Tina decides to help, handing over her jacket and pink beret as a disguise. They make it back to Tina’s house, where they dodge her inquisitive mother—“When did you get that penguin?” her mother asks. “What penguin?” Tina replies, before fobbing the creature off as a stuffed animal—but they soon start running into difficulties. If the penguin gets too hot, it molts like crazy; when it takes a bath with Tina, she must endure cold water and ice cubes; one afternoon she returns home to find the penguin in the refrigerator, happy if obvious. Late one night, the penguin takes his silent leave through the open window. His destination is unknown, but Tina soon spots a familiar looking animal on a nature show, about penguins in Antarctica, and one of them is wearing a pink beret. The Animal Liberation Front will particularly enjoy this title; so, too, will anyone with a fondness for animals and an appreciation for being footloose. The art is as droll as the story, stiff-limbed characters register surprise with little round mouths and eyes. Funny bits demonstrate the text; don’t miss the penguin in the refrigerator or the room full of penguin feathers. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-55074-947-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2002

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DIARY OF A SPIDER

The wriggly narrator of Diary of a Worm (2003) puts in occasional appearances, but it’s his arachnid buddy who takes center stage here, with terse, tongue-in-cheek comments on his likes (his close friend Fly, Charlotte’s Web), his dislikes (vacuums, people with big feet), nervous encounters with a huge Daddy Longlegs, his extended family—which includes a Grandpa more than willing to share hard-won wisdom (The secret to a long, happy life: “Never fall asleep in a shoe.”)—and mishaps both at spider school and on the human playground. Bliss endows his garden-dwellers with faces and the odd hat or other accessory, and creates cozy webs or burrows colorfully decorated with corks, scraps, plastic toys and other human detritus. Spider closes with the notion that we could all get along, “just like me and Fly,” if we but got to know one another. Once again, brilliantly hilarious. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-000153-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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