A wild time on the MacDonald farm, with music included at the close.

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OLD MACDONALD HAD A…ZOO?

Old MacDonald had a—kangaroo?!?

It’s just another day on the bespectacled white man’s farm, starting with the milking of his cow and an E-I-E-I-O. But in the pig’s sty, instead of an “oink oink” accompanying the E-I-E-I-O, there’s a hopping kangaroo splattering mud everywhere. An elephant sprays Old MacDonald clean with water from the trough (with an E-I-E-I-O). Then…“Old MacDonald heard a crunch, E-I-E-I-O. / Zebras helped themselves to lunch, E-I-E-I-O. // With a chomp above, and a chomp below, / Here a chomp, there a chomp, / Everywhere a chomp chomp, / What a hungry, messy bunch, E-I-E-I-O.” Then monkeys E-I-E-I-O in the henhouse, and a crocodile E-I-E-I-Os in the garden before Old MacDonald gets fed up. He bundles all the inappropriate animals into his truck and takes them back to the zoo with a vroom vroom and an E-I-E-I-O. Prolific nursery-rhymer Trapani turns the traditional song on its head for a rousing romp with some zoo escapees and some surprised farm denizens. Bright watercolor, acrylic, and ink illustrations, mostly in double-page spreads, are full of expressive animals. This update of the rhyme would be a fine addition to personal collections and will be welcome at storytime.

A wild time on the MacDonald farm, with music included at the close. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58089-729-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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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Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...

THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING

Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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