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A GOOFY GUIDE TO PENGUINS

From the creator of the Benjamin Bear books, absurdist humor carries across species.

Silly untruths about penguins unfold in comic-book style.

The premise is to ask wacky questions about penguins and then supply even wackier answers. Short, two-paneled comic strips explain all kinds of penguin antics. How do penguins know they’ve reached the South Pole? When they see the road sign that indicates every direction is north, of course. Why do penguins like to stand? Because only a small amount of snow will pile on their heads. But if they lie down, a mountain will pile on their backs. Endless gags rely on snow/ice humor and also the assertion that all penguins look alike (which makes hide-and-seek difficult). The Coudray author-illustrator duo are twins—they identify with penguins when folks can’t tell them apart. The foundation of silliness is set up in the title and continues with cues in the art. Penguins wear mittens, use electric space heaters, and hold umbrellas. Hopefully, readers will get the joke from the start and not take any of these to be facts. If any confusion does ensue, some “Amazing But True: 100% Genuine, Real Facts About Penguins” appear in the backmatter.

From the creator of the Benjamin Bear books, absurdist humor carries across species. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-935179-96-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: TOON Books & Graphics

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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FLY GUY PRESENTS: SHARKS

From the Fly Guy series

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity.

Buzz and his buzzy buddy open a spinoff series of nonfiction early readers with an aquarium visit.

Buzz: “Like other fish, sharks breathe through gills.” Fly Guy: “GILLZZ.” Thus do the two pop-eyed cartoon tour guides squire readers past a plethora of cramped but carefully labeled color photos depicting dozens of kinds of sharks in watery settings, along with close-ups of skin, teeth and other anatomical features. In the bite-sized blocks of narrative text, challenging vocabulary words like “carnivores” and “luminescence” come with pronunciation guides and lucid in-context definitions. Despite all the flashes of dentifrice and references to prey and smelling blood in the water, there is no actual gore or chowing down on display. Sharks are “so cool!” proclaims Buzz at last, striding out of the gift shop. “I can’t wait for our next field trip!” (That will be Fly Guy Presents: Space, scheduled for September 2013.)

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity. (Informational easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-50771-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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