This compelling fictional introduction raises awareness and empathy for a very real environmental problem.

READ REVIEW

THE FISHERMAN & THE WHALE

Lanan’s wordless narrative pulls viewers right into the choppy waves of her gouache-and-watercolor world as a man and a pre-adolescent kid haul fish-laden nets into their boat.

Their shared light skin tone and reddish-brown hair signal a familial relationship. As the day winds down, the child notices what readers have been observing: A whale is entangled in underwater lines connected to traps for shellfish. While the father would prefer to depart, the child insists that they help the animal. Lanan employs a variety of perspectives and page designs to build suspense and maintain interest. Circular compositions depicting the tilting vessel on white backgrounds—as if glimpsed through a telescope—are balanced on either side of the gutter. These give way to double-page spreads of the blue ocean depths that bleed off the page. Action is observed from the air, underwater, and at middle range, with a front seat to the rescue above and below the surface. At times the book must be turned vertically to grasp the scale of the operation. Endpapers provide a satisfying symmetry related to featured characters. In a concluding note, the author asks readers to “suspend your disbelief and read this story as a fable rather than a literal guide.” She explains some liberties taken in service of layout and cautions the audience against attempting such a response. Her failure to specifically locate her “fable” or to represent realistic maritime traffic—there’s only ever the one boat—may leave coastal readers unmoored.

This compelling fictional introduction raises awareness and empathy for a very real environmental problem. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1574-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 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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