Certainly the most engaging of the recent wave of octopus stories, for reading aloud or reading alone.

READ REVIEW

LOVE, AGNES

POSTCARDS FROM AN OCTOPUS

Toward the end of her short life, an octopus exchanges a series of postcards with others around her, including a boy on a pier and her newly hatched eggs.

Spread by spread, a simple narrative accompanied by postcard messages provides clever introduction to the life of a giant Pacific octopus. Though Latham’s story is thoroughly fantastic, both author and illustrator have been respectful to this amazing creature, describing realistic behaviors and depicting her relatively accurately, right down to the rectangular pupils of her eyes and her senescent color change. Agnes the octopus squeezes herself into a jar and later into a crevice in the rocks. As “Crabby Crab” requests, she stops eating crabs, but only because she’s ready to lay her eggs. She evades a predator by ejecting a cloud of ink. She quietly tends her eggs until they hatch, and then she bids the world goodbye. She has final advice for her pen pal Andrew, too: “You can’t be mad or sad when you’re swimming. Try it.” Backmatter offers further information about octopuses (including the correct plural) as well as solid suggestions for further reading. Baker’s appealing collage, acrylic paint, and digital illustrations are full of deep-sea color and abound with interesting patterns and textures. They include other thoroughly recognizable sea dwellers.

Certainly the most engaging of the recent wave of octopus stories, for reading aloud or reading alone. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5124-3993-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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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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