Informative and empathetic.

READ REVIEW

FARAWAY FOX

When human encroachment eliminates a young fox’s forest habitat, it searches to find a new home.

The lone fox narrates in the first person, beginning the story with recollections of how its family had lived together in their forest, hunting and playing. During its young life, encroachment has depleted the forest, leaving it fragmented. Alone, the fox wanders through housing developments, along viaducts, and past vacant lots. Each place reminds the fox of a particular family member: at the concrete viaduct, it recalls playing with a sister in what used to be a stream. When it reaches the wide freeway, the fox remembers when its father discovered a deer that had been trapped and realizes it is trapped now, too. The fox wanders until it comes upon construction workers who have built a highway wildlife tunnel for safe passage under dangerous roads. Without being maudlin, author Thompson’s words give a gentle, reflective tone to the story that addresses not only habitat reduction, but also the difficult problem of animals and vehicles. Illustrator Thompson’s luminous artwork adds empathy to the text and offers hope not only for the fox, but also for many wild creatures; a sign indicating the site of a future wildlife preserve will ease many young listeners’ anxiety.

Informative and empathetic. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-70711-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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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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