The magical quality of the photographic illustrations and the enchanting eggs give this Easter-themed story extra appeal.

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THE EASTER SURPRISE

From the Sweet Pea & Friends series

A rabbit named Fern solves a mystery as she follows clues in the shape of decorated eggs painted with the faces of her farm-animal friends.

A dramatic cover photograph of a huge rabbit in a basket of intricately decorated Easter eggs draws readers into this story, the fifth in the Sweet Pea & Friends series. The story is illustrated with photographs of the animals that live on the author-photographer team’s farm in Vermont, with a large cast of characters who have appeared in previous books in the series. The production values of these digitally composed photographic illustrations are outstanding, with an oversized format, high-quality paper, and brilliant colors that showcase the beautifully painted eggs hidden throughout. Many of the eggs are painted in Ukrainian folk-art style, with one large egg on each spread decorated with an animal character’s face, predicting the appearance of that animal on the next spread. The actual story is a little too wordy for the intended audience, with a rather confusing total of 17 named characters to keep straight as the simple mystery of who planted the eggs unfolds. The solution to the mystery of the face-bedecked eggs is, of course, revealed with the appearance of the Easter Bunny, who has been glimpsed throughout the previous illustrations. A concluding note provides more information about the farm animals and the artist who painted the eggs.

The magical quality of the photographic illustrations and the enchanting eggs give this Easter-themed story extra appeal. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-41166-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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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