ARMADILLO TATTLETALE

Reminiscent of Aesop’s Fables, Ketteman (Shoeshine Whittaker, 1999, etc.) tells a mirthful moral tale wherein a busybody armadillo learns the consequences of eavesdropping and gossiping. Armadillo has ears as long as a jackrabbit’s, which allow him to hear everything he shouldn’t and make it very difficult for him to get around. Those pesky ears are always getting under foot. Moreover, all the other animals, stung by his misspeak, have excluded him from the watering hole. Despite his constant thirst and “the what-for and the how-come and the why-not” scolding he’s been treated to, Armadillo persists in his disagreeable behavior. He creeps about, bending an ear to other’s conversations and then twisting what he’s heard. He really gets himself in a fix when he crosses Alligator. One day he overhears Heron and Alligator discussing the way Toad’s skin has improved, perhaps because of a changed diet. Armadillo passes this along to Toad, only his version has Alligator calling Toad’s skin “plug-ugly” and suggesting she go on a diet. When Alligator discovers this she gives Armadillo what-for but she also adds gnashing teeth and some precise nipping here and there until all Armadillo has left are diminutive ears. From then on, Armadillo cannot hear quite so keenly, but his ears never trip him up again. Graves’s waggish illustrations, an ideal match for the text, are painted in striking deep hues and make for fabulous eye-candy. Rarely is learning a lesson this much fun. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-590-99723-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2000

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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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JOHN PHILIP DUCK

Edward and his father work for the Peabody Hotel in Memphis since the Depression has brought hard times for so many. On weekends they return to their farm in the hills and it’s there Edward finds John Philip Duck, named for the composer whose marches Edward listens to on the radio. Edward has to look after the scrawny duckling during the week, so he risks the ire of the hotel manager by taking John Philip with him. The expected occurs when Mr. Shutt finds the duckling. The blustery manager makes Edward a deal. If Edward can train John Philip to swim in the hotel fountain all day (and lure in more customers), Edward and the duck can stay. After much hard work, John Philip learns to stay put and Edward becomes the first Duck Master at the hotel. This half-imagined story of the first of the famous Peabody Hotel ducks is one of Polacco’s most charming efforts to date. Her signature illustrations are a bit brighter and full of the music of the march. An excellent read aloud for older crowds, but the ever-so-slightly anthropomorphic ducks will come across best shared one-on-one. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-399-24262-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2004

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