MILES AWAY FROM HOME

It happens often enough: Your best intentions are misinterpreted, or go awry, and you get nothing but grief for your trouble, nothing but trouble for your acts of kindness. So goes this story of Miles, the family dog, who is forever finding himself in the doghouse when his goodness gets unintentionally subverted. Miles and his (human) family are on vacation at the seashore. He couldn't be happier as he rides the waves, digs the moat for the children's sandcastle, tests the food, and generally behaves as intelligently as Peggy Rathmann's pooch in Officer Buckle and Gloria (1995). Then he tests a little too much food and incurs the wrath of some neighboring beach-goers. Well, okay, a mistake is a mistake and Miles is forgiven. The next day he is in such a good mood, he stands everyone to an ice cream: "But he miscalculated how much twenty orange freezy pops would cost." The ice cream man is not amused. The next day, Miles helps a child with a tricky miniature golf shot only to watch it bounce off someone's head and land in someone else's soda. "That dog should be in a kennel." This sends poor Miles into a major depression. The very thought of it: "smelly wet cement floors, locks with no keys, roommates named Spike . . ." But the fat lady sings for Miles, and the vacation turns out to be a winner. Comical watercolors follow the story, the best being Miles doing the limbo, arms splayed and head thrown back, at a beach party thrown in his honor after his resurrection. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-15-202212-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2001

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Hee haw.

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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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