It's a charming tale of generosity that, one hopes, will drive readers to also seek its traditional inspiration.

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FEATHERS FOR PEACOCK

A wintry tale of how the peacock got his colorful feathers and of the power of kindness.

In the early days of the world, birds did not have feathers to shield their bodies from the cold. Seeing other animals that have shells or fur, Hawk and Eagle seek advice from the wise moon. The moon promises that if the birds rub up against the flowers and plants at dawn, when the moon and the sun are in the sky at the same time, they will be clothed—but Peacock, sleeping in his cave, misses this moment. Seeing his naked body, all the birds each chip in one of their feathers, and with the help of the wise moon as well, Peacock gets his distinctive look. Cann’s vivid paintings bring to life the colorful plumage and seasonal stages of the story, jewel colors enlivening both flowers and feathers. In an afterword, Jules provides further information on peafowl and explains that she was primarily inspired by “El Plumaje del Múcaro,” a Puerto Rican folk tale in which a múcaro (owl) acquires party plumage with the help of the guaraguao (hawk). Puerto Rican readers and those otherwise familiar with the original may well be taken aback by the erasure of its cultural distinctiveness in service of Jules’ artistic license.

It's a charming tale of generosity that, one hopes, will drive readers to also seek its traditional inspiration. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-937786-53-3

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Wisdom Tales

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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