It doesn’t outshine the original, but it’s a romping, regional retelling that introduces new animals to boot.

READ REVIEW

THERE ONCE WAS A COWPOKE WHO SWALLOWED AN ANT

“There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” gets a down-home Texan transformation.

An exaggerated blockhead of a cowboy accidentally swallows a fire ant. His eyes bulge and cheeks puff wide—“The cowpoke panted, and his voice got higher. / ‘Yippie-ti-yay! My stomach’s on fire!’ ” He needs to fix this situation right quick. So what does he do? Why, swallow a spider, of course. But that spider (complete with eight eyes) wiggles and waggles inside him. And so he downs a string of Southwestern creatures—a snake, a roadrunner, an armadillo (shortened to “ ’dillo” for the rhythm’s sake), a boar and more. The poor cowpoke looks more bedraggled and desperate with each passing animal. But before the expected tragic end of the cumulative song can befall him, determination kicks in. He sets his 10-gallon hat firmly on his head and declares, “If I want it done right, I’ll do it myself.” In a twist sure to stop young readers in their tracks, the cowboy swallows his rope, his horse and…himself. Those animals stampede right out of his mouth. Warm, sun-baked hues and wide-mouthed gulping scenes amp up the lunacy. Alas, the rhythm takes some bumpy turns, so singing out loud requires practice.

It doesn’t outshine the original, but it’s a romping, regional retelling that introduces new animals to boot. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8075-7850-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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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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