CYNTHIA COPPERSMITH’S VIOLET COMES TO STAY

Three adorable kittens are born in a kitchen pantry. Their mother explains that their game playing is really training to kill mice, which is their job. Violet is the last kitten chosen, first by the plant nurseryman, then the bakery woman. But each time, Violet remembers Mom’s mousing rules too late: prowl quietly, plan your leap carefully and pounce boldly. Both times when she’s brought back, her mother tells her, “God has a plan for each of us.” In her third home, a bookstore with a nice lady named Alice, Violet finally catches a mouse but lets it escape. “Mice are nuisances,” comforts Alice, “but they’re God’s creatures, too. We’ll find other ways of keeping them out.” McCully’s style of quick-sketch lines and realistic scenes are charming and convey the affectionate tone of the text. The title will be puzzling for people unfamiliar with Jan Karon’s Mitford Years series: “Cynthia Coppersmith” is a main character in those novels, who writes and illustrates books about her cat, Violet. First of an intended series about Violet that will, no doubt, continue the pious messages. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-670-06073-9

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2006

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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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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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