Fine for a metafictive read-aloud but not so great as science.



The world’s ugliest animal speaks up.

In the tradition of Kelly Bingham and Paul O. Zelinsky's Moose and David Ezra Stein’s Interrupting Chicken, Blobfish takes over a book about deep-sea creatures, inserting itself into every page. A straightforward text about deep-sea life, a sentence or two set on a background of photographs, is interrupted on every double-page spread by an impatient cartoon blobfish and its own commentary. When its photograph finally appears, the text notes that it “was once voted the world’s ugliest.” Naturally, its feelings are hurt. At this point, the other animals—viperfish, jellyfish, jewel squid, anglerfish, blenny fish, giant spider crab, and northern stoplight loosejaw—acquire speech bubbles too, banding together to make their own crayoned page with a message of support. The humor is grand, the informational value modest. Olien has juxtaposed creatures that may live far apart in real life. On a diagram of ocean zones (with only English measurements), Blobfish points to the 13,000-foot line between the bathypelagic and abyssopelagic zone to show where he lives “in the deep, deep part”; since there is yet another zone below 20,000 feet, readers will wonder exactly what “deep, deep” means. Moreover, in truth, blobfish seem to live around 2,000-4,000 feet down. They also probably look quite different at their proper depth; the photo in the book was taken at the surface. Further facts and suggestions for websites to explore are added in the backmatter.

Fine for a metafictive read-aloud but not so great as science. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 31, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-239415-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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. 29, 2018

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.


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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