It's a doggone shame that didacticism mars the depiction of a young owner's relationship with her beloved pup.

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MY FRIEND FRED

A young girl shares a special bond with Fred, her family's pooch.

When Grace’s older sister Sarah has friends over, they want to play with the dog. But Grace insists the dog belongs to her. After all, Fred's sniffing locates Grace's backpack when it's buried in a mess; he lounges in her bean-bag chair and wakes her with a nudge of a ball. She attempts doggy extortion to distract him with make-believe and stories (“Let's look at these for hours and hours until all Sarah's friends go home”), but Fred whimpers at the door. Grace has an epiphany that leads to a dramatic change of heart. Although this shift is praiseworthy and one that many parents will encourage, it is out of sync with Grace's developmentally realistic attitude that preceded it. Her final, private thoughts belie her transformation, though: “I know ‘ours’ is only a word and whatever anyone says, really that dog will always mostly be… / my friend Fred.” Fred and Grace's relationship is endearingly described in Reeve's pastel-hued illustrations. Appropriately, they are by far the most developed characters, aptly reflecting Grace's self-centeredness. 

It's a doggone shame that didacticism mars the depiction of a young owner's relationship with her beloved pup. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58925-105-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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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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