Whether or not young listeners are familiar with the origin of her names, the evocation of the two sides of a familiar and...

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PUSS JEKYLL CAT HYDE

This slim British import, which combines beautiful artwork and brief, poetic text, seems more likely to appeal to adult cat lovers than to young listeners, but the dichotomy at its heart may be intriguing to some children, and the lush language pleases the ear and offers plenty to discuss.

A placid black-and-white cat gazes out from the front cover. Inside, each double-page spread features a realistic colored-pencil and watercolor portrait of the same cat engaged in typical feline pursuits. When licking a paw clean, she’s a “[f]urry, purry puss.” The turn of the page shows her with a dead mouse clamped between her jaws and offers this description: “Scourge of the mouse /… / All fang and claw.” Dunbar’s verse varies in quality but overall succeeds in capturing the cat’s essential character. Light backgrounds contrast with darker, shadowed ones, while the texture of the paper adds depth and interest to the simply sketched settings. Barton’s illustrations emphasize the differences outlined in the text: The cat’s eyes vary from gray, black and white to a vivid, menacing green, and her claws and teeth are prominently featured on the “Cat Hyde” pages, while “Puss Jekyll” is shown in nonthreatening poses.

Whether or not young listeners are familiar with the origin of her names, the evocation of the two sides of a familiar and beloved pet will resonate. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-84780-369-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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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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