GRUNT

A melancholy runt learns about happiness and self-acceptance from a genial boar. The smallest offspring in a robust clan, Wee-skin-and-bones feels at a considerable disadvantage to his hefty siblings. With a snout that’s too small, ears that are too wrinkled, and a tail that’s nonexistent, the blue-deviled piglet is excluded from his sibling’s piggy play. Despondent, Wee-skin-and-bones runs off to the forest, where he’s befriended by an angel of mercy in porcine guise. Old-scratch-and-scruff offers the piglet complete acceptance and friendship. The hairy boar teaches the forlorn piggy that looks are only skin deep. “I’m a bristly old scruff on the outside, but inside . . . Oooo . . . I’m a beauty!” However, this is no fairy tale about an ugly waif who grows into a splendid looking creature. Richardson wisely refrains from altering the piglet’s outward appearance; rather, the transformation occurs from within, as Wee-skin-and-bones discovers that happiness with yourself is by far the most attractive quality you can possess. Richardson’s peacefully pastoral watercolors feature a palette of tranquil hues. Heart-warming illustrations of the young piglet and old boar merrily cavorting about the forest expressively reveal the divine pleasure to be found in a true friendship. A light-hearted tale that sends a worthwhile message to children. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-15974-6

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2002

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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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Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed.

YOU DON'T WANT A DRAGON!

If you thought having a unicorn as a pet was hard, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tried owning a dragon.

The young protagonist of You Don’t Want a Unicorn! (2017) is back, and they clearly haven’t learned their lesson. Now they’ve wished for a pet dragon. As the intrusive narrator is quick to point out, everything about it seems fun at the beginning. However, it’s not long before the doglike dragon starts chasing squirrels, drooling, pooping (ever wondered where charcoal comes from?), scooting its butt across the floor (leaving fire and flames behind), and more. By now, the dragon has grown too huge to keep, so the child (who appears white and also to live alone) wishes it away and settles for a cute little hamster instead. A perfect pet…until it finds a stray magical cupcake. Simple cartoon art and a surfeit of jokes about defecation suggest this book will find an appreciative audience. The dragon/dog equivalences are cute on an initial read, but they may not be strong enough to convince anyone to return. Moreover, a surprising amount of the plot hinges on having read the previous book in this series (it’s the only way readers will know that cupcakes are unicorn poop).

Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53580-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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