The lesson about sharing and generosity is elegantly wrapped around lovely language.

READ REVIEW

THE GREEN UMBRELLA

A pink elephant emotionally attached to an umbrella finds the same object has many uses for a series of animals he encounters one rainy day.

It begins when a hedgehog tells the elephant, "Excuse me, I believe you have my boat." The hedgehog's story, about an eventful journey at sea in the umbrella is lovely, but the elephant tells the hedgehog, "I'm sure you’re mistaken." The scene repeats with a cat who believes the umbrella is a tent for camping, a bear that insists it’s a flying machine, and others. Politely but firmly, the elephant insists that the umbrella belongs to him, even sharing his own unorthodox uses of the tool, but he is polite enough to invite the animals to stay out of the rain and under the umbrella. The story ends, of course, in friendship and a picnic as well as the understanding that imagination can infuse the most mundane things with deep meaning. Illustrated in spreads that alternate the rainy-day narrative in vignettes with full-bleed spreads that allow the flight-of-fancy retellings to render a deeper mood, the animals’ stories are delightfully descriptive: there's "the salty spray of whales" and “Northern Lights [that] glimmer above rolling hills." While the elephant stands firm in holding onto that umbrella, each of the animals is allowed a brief moment in the spotlight to tell a whimsical tale.

The lesson about sharing and generosity is elegantly wrapped around lovely language. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4218-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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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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