THE RUBBER-LEGGED DUCKY

Thanks to his mother’s accidental ingestion of a rubber band, the duckling dubbed “Five” hatches out with one stretchable leg and a “Bing-boing” rather than a “Quack.” The other farm animals make fun of him, but Mama assures him that “you are different from the others, but you are my special ducky, and that means you can do special, wonderful things.” Indeed, when a fox comes along one night, Five proves his mettle by sounding the alarm and helping to drive the predator off. The plot is a bit thin, but it’s impossible not to like such a clever, heroic ducky, and in Cole’s pleasant rural scenes Five—sporting a squiggly leg that makes the “disability” theme even more explicit than Mama’s comment—is joined by expressive, cleanly drawn sibs and other livestock. All in all, this is closer in spirit and audience appeal to Jane Simmons’s Daisy tales than the classic “Ugly Duckling.” (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-15-205289-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2008

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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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BECAUSE YOUR DADDY LOVES YOU

Give this child’s-eye view of a day at the beach with an attentive father high marks for coziness: “When your ball blows across the sand and into the ocean and starts to drift away, your daddy could say, Didn’t I tell you not to play too close to the waves? But he doesn’t. He wades out into the cold water. And he brings your ball back to the beach and plays roll and catch with you.” Alley depicts a moppet and her relaxed-looking dad (to all appearances a single parent) in informally drawn beach and domestic settings: playing together, snuggling up on the sofa and finally hugging each other goodnight. The third-person voice is a bit distancing, but it makes the togetherness less treacly, and Dad’s mix of love and competence is less insulting, to parents and children both, than Douglas Wood’s What Dads Can’t Do (2000), illus by Doug Cushman. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 23, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-00361-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2005

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