New fans of Falconer can only hope Ian will soon star in his own book.

READ REVIEW

OLIVIA

Even before her story begins, readers are following Olivia as she leaves a trail of clothes that she has eschewed in favor of the outfit du jour for her auspicious entrance on the title page.

Rarely have readers seen a pig with such joie de vivre and panache. The brief, declarative text is an unadorned introduction to a character who will gain instant recognition and quickly be taken to heart. The story very simply follows the irrepressible Olivia (along with her somewhat forbearing family) through a typical day from morning to night, with excursions to the beach and the art museum. A delicious irony is established between the spare, deadpan text and the ever-ebullient and excessive Olivia. “Olivia gets dressed. She has to try on everything,” says the text. Thus begins a parade of 17 outfits and 17 poses on a double-page spread. While young readers will love picking their favorite among the 17, by far the funniest is Olivia in her pantyhose. Much of Olivia’s personality is conveyed through her generous, expressive, and slightly quizzical mouth, as she ponders a Degas at the museum or suffers the indignity of a “time out” after re-creating a Jackson Pollock on her bedroom wall. Characterizations are deftly accomplished with minimal line. Illustrations are rendered in charcoal and gouache in black, white, velvety gray with lipstick-red accents. Flawless decisions in composition and page design, generous white space, and a few exaggerated perspectives add much to the book’s distinction. Although the most visual weight is given to Olivia, just waiting on the sidelines is Olivia’s little brother Ian.

New fans of Falconer can only hope Ian will soon star in his own book. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 978-0-689-82953-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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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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