PETE THE SHEEP-SHEEP

In a sort of “queer eye for the straight sheep,” a mild-mannered shearer and his sheep-sheep show a trio of tough shearers how to get in touch with their stylish sides. Ratso, Big Bob and Bungo, and their sheepdogs Brute, Tiny and Fang, are taken aback, to say the least, when Shaun shows up with fedora-clad Pete, a sheep-herding sheep, whose polite way with his flock represents a radical and unwelcome new way of doing things. Ostracized from shearer society, Shaun practices his craft on Pete, whose new do draws all the other sheep to him, prompting him to open a salon. Soon, Brute, Tiny and Fang are sporting Shaun’s handiwork as well, and finally Ratso, Big Bob and Bungo all join in. As in the pair’s Diary of a Wombat (2003), the understated text gives the whimsical watercolor-and-pencil illustrations plenty of room to explore the inherent wackiness of the concept, as the gentle Shaun finds the right look for everyone, sheep, dog and shearer alike. It’s a sweetly fleecy tale of outsider-makes-good, the genially inevitable ending entirely satisfying. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-56862-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2005

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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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THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE

Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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