A young child learns to navigate the nuances of social relationships, with help from a spotted, lanky friend.

GIRAFFES RUIN EVERYTHING

Towering legs and long necks can get in the way of a friendship.

The unnamed, rosy-cheeked, white narrator ticks off facts about giraffes—yes, they are tall. Yes, they are gentle. But this little tot is sure about one more thing. Looking directly at readers, hands splayed in exasperation, the child proclaims, “Giraffes ruin everything.” Whatever you do, don’t invite a giraffe to a birthday party. He will slurp the punch with his long tongue and not even apologize when he stains your shirt. (The giraffe is referred to throughout as male.) And at the park? The giraffe will hog the entire slide; his feet will be at the bottom, but his head will still be at the top. Plus, he can steal your ice cream from half a block away! Giraffes really do ruin everything. (The poor giraffe looks more and more devastated each time he is declared unfit for friendship.) But maybe, just maybe, a giraffe would be helpful to have around sometimes. Especially when friends are quick to shout that you ruin everything. When the tables are turned, suddenly all mistakes seem more forgivable. Bright digital illustrations enliven this cheeky tale.

A young child learns to navigate the nuances of social relationships, with help from a spotted, lanky friend. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61963-475-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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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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