A soothing and appealing read-aloud, this lovely look under the sea may spark scientific curiosity in listeners.

READ REVIEW

LITTLE WHALE

A gray whale and her calf migrate from south to north in this British import.

As in Weaver’s debut, Little One (2016), luminous charcoal illustrations reveal and enhance a loving relationship between an animal mother and (non–gender-specific) child. Double-page spreads in varying shades of blue show the mother and calf swimming past coral reefs, over waving fronds of seaweed, through schools of fish, under a starry sky, and on and on through the vast sea on their journey home. The monochromatic pages sparkle with sunlight, evoke the watery sway of plant life, and capture the vastness of the open ocean as appropriate. A pod of orcas provides a frisson of danger, the calf’s exhaustion a modicum of suspense, but overall the mood is serene. Imagined exchanges between Gray Whale and Little Whale will sound comfortingly familiar to both young listeners and adult readers. When the child/calf asks, “Are we nearly there?” the mother responds, “Not yet,” and offers encouragement to continue swimming. While the dialogue obviously anthropomorphizes the characters somewhat, the pictures provide a generally realistic view of the animals and their habitat. The straightforward text, which tracks their progress and describes the natural world through which they travel, likewise emphasizes the fact-based nature of the tale.

A soothing and appealing read-aloud, this lovely look under the sea may spark scientific curiosity in listeners. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68263-049-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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