THE LOVESICK SKUNK

The duo that created The Gum-Chewing Rattler (2006) concocts a Garrison Keillor–type anecdote sized to fit a picture book. The key character is not a skunk, as the title suggests, but a pair of very smelly sneakers. The bespectacled boy narrator refuses to stop wearing them, even after a mishap with cow pies, until the night he and his pal camp out. When a noise in the night awakens them, they find a skunk ardently nuzzling a sneaker. They watch as a large skunk appears, jealously sprays the sneaker and leaves with "my shoes' new girlfriend" tagging behind him. The innate humor is realistically illustrated with detailed full bleeds but is washed out by the voice of the first-person narrator, which attempts a childlike ingenuousness but achieves instead an unfortunately patronizing tone in print: "I stepped in the cow pie. That's not a pie cows like to eat. It's something that comes out the other end of the cow!" Without the storyteller's oral inflections, too many laugh lines fall flat. What kind of books do skunks read? Best "smellers"—but unfortunately this isn’t one. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-933693-81-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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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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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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