In the end, good intentions, bright colors, a gentle voice and an agreeable theme do not jell into a successful book.

READ REVIEW

SEED MAGIC

A tale about the quest for magic and beauty struggles to bring its various parts together, leaving only an impression of what the story might have been.

Crazy old Birdman is an iconic figure in his urban neighborhood, sitting in his wheelchair and feeding pigeons. The neighborhood children, including Toby and Rose, wonder how Birdman could possibly find joy in the filthy birds. Rose is astonished when Birdman tells her he finds the birds beautiful. Rose insists that true beauty comes from flowers and gardens, like those in her library books. "Birds not beautiful," she says. So when Birdman gives her a handful of seeds and tells her to place them on her windowsill, she is skeptical—though hopeful. The ungrammatical speech patterns come across as uneducated rather than childlike, giving the book the tone and feel of something from decades past. The artwork, on the other hand, appears energetic on the verge of frenetic, and the slow-moving language and rip-roaring swirls of color collide without joy or magic.

In the end, good intentions, bright colors, a gentle voice and an agreeable theme do not jell into a successful book. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-56145-622-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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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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