A testament to the joy of creation and a celebration of a different kind of beauty—sparkling indeed.

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PRINCESS SPARKLE-HEART GETS A MAKEOVER

Schneider’s playful take on the beauty makeover upends expectations with comedic—and powerful—results.

When Amelia receives Princess Sparkle-Heart, the girl and doll become fast friends. From dancing and tea parties to weddings and secrets, they share almost everything—much to the chagrin of the family dog. Growling and glowering his way across spreads, the canine has it in for the doll. So it’s no surprise when tragedy strikes and Sparkle-Heart is torn to shreds. But all is not lost, as Amelia and her mom make the doll anew. With extra stuffing for “protection,” a few extra button eyes (because it’s hard to choose “just two”), some “good teeth” and a comic-book–inspired outfit, the transformation is complete. After a suspenseful makeover reveal, it’s clear Amelia adores her now-monsterlike doll more than ever—and in that moment, Schneider redefines beauty and what is “princess.” Meticulous pen, ink and watercolor illustrations perfectly capture Amelia’s emotions; she is reminiscent of Pippi Longstocking, with her red, statement hairdo, blue denim overalls and plucky personality. Cinematic illustrations play with proportion and perspective, echoing the work of comic-book luminaries Geof Darrow and Moebius. A clever cover, with its curvy, bedazzled, pink title splashed across the page, acts as a beacon to the princess-obsessed, while craft-licious lettering toward the bottom hints at the tale’s interior.

A testament to the joy of creation and a celebration of a different kind of beauty—sparkling indeed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-14228-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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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