Once die-hard fans spy this, they’ll make a grab for it.

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OLIVIA THE SPY

From the Olivia series

That irrepressible porker is back.

This time Olivia’s up to espionage, or eavesdropping, or listening in on her parents’ conversation—call it what you will—and misinterprets what she overhears. In typical fashion, Olivia decides she doesn’t like what she’s heard and sets out to “investigate.” This means trying to blend in and play incognito, not an easy task given the piglet’s penchant for standing out. Her teacher’s innocent and well-meant explanation of an ominous-sounding word casually uttered by her dad ups the stakes to something that seems truly dire. When her mom tells her they’re going on a surprise trip, Olivia can’t help but imagine the worst: they’re headed for—oh, no!—an institution where, no doubt, she’ll be locked up for serious misdemeanors. Turns out, the dreaded place is actually New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; Olivia’s going to the ballet. How lovely for Olivia, but it does seem at odds with her mother’s frustration with her daughter’s latest infractions. The story’s thin, but, as usual, this newest installment in the popular series is full of funny bits, while adults’ bewildered, clueless expressions and Olivia’s earnest obliviousness in the charcoal-and-gouache illustrations are priceless. References to Julia Child and ballet terms will be above most kids’ heads, and a gratuitous accidental visit to the stage instead of the restroom feels tacked-on.

Once die-hard fans spy this, they’ll make a grab for it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5795-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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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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