TACKYLOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS

From the Tacky the Penguin series

Pomposity gets one on the snoot when Tacky the Penguin (Tacky and the Emperor, 2000, etc.) returns to take the lead in the school play. Goodly, Lovely, Angel, Neatly, and Perfect—penguins all—are staging a play for Mrs. Beakly’s school. Tacky is begrudgingly allowed to join and gets the role of Goldilocks, or, in this case, Tackylocks. Their lines mastered, the penguins take to the stage in front of Mrs. Beakly’s class of little fuzzy and obstreperous penguin chicks. Tackylocks gallumphs his way through the performance: chowing down all the porridge (even when it is too hot or too cold); piling the chairs atop one another to get at the cookie jar on top of the cabinet; taking a great pratfall—“A penguin full of porridge does not fall like a snowflake. ‘Cool!’ cheered the Little Fuzzy Ones”—and then promptly falls asleep in the little bear’s bed. The other penguins go stiffly through the motions, visibly disturbed that not all appears to be going as planned. Then Tacky explodes out of the bed and stages a pillow fight, in which all the Little Fuzzy Ones get active. The play is a crashing success; there is little wonder why, and their names aren’t Goodly, Lovely, Angel, Neatly, or Perfect. Lester doesn’t overdue the text, but keeps it at a crisp, droll level, and, as usual, Munsinger’s illustrations catch the right proportion of absurdity and comeuppance. Another victory for oddfellows everywhere. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-22490-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walter Lorraine/Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2002

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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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A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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