An ideal introduction to nature’s complexities, wrapped up in an unexpectedly poetic package.

READ REVIEW

LITTLE FOX IN THE SNOW

In the snowy forest, a little fox is in turn the hunter and the hunted.

Opening on a young fox tucked safely inside his burrow, the second-person narration describes the fox’s day as he explores the snowy expanse, captures lunch, and surprises a wolverine, shifting the young fox from predator to prey. After a ferocious chase, the fox escapes and settles in to sleep, the narrator musing about the fox’s potential future as father to kits of his own. The tale unfolds in expressive free-form poetry. The short, evocative lines beautifully capture the dreamy stillness of the fox’s wandering, “lap[ping] tiny tongue-curls of icy cold water,” but deftly alternate with lines that burst forth with the urgency of the chase: “Little fox—you must go go go!” London’s fox is clearly wild, not a storybook animal, and Miyares doesn’t shy away from authenticity either, with the fox’s snacks shown realistically (though without gore). His painterly watercolors showcase the forest’s vastness and the rust-red fox, whose toothy gray shadow blazes against gleaming white snow. The fox exudes dignity and complexity, with the agile animal breaking the frame of an action-packed hunting page but also presenting as tiny and imperiled when pursued. While the story itself is a tad slight, words and art effectively convey the fox’s fluctuating role in the forest ecosystem.

An ideal introduction to nature’s complexities, wrapped up in an unexpectedly poetic package. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8814-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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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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