Both very silly and very appealing. (Picture book. 4-6)

THE WHALE IN MY SWIMMING POOL

A little boy of pleasingly indeterminate ethnicity goes out to his little backyard inflatable pool to find a whale in it.

It’s a very large, round, blue whale, which is kind of squished on top of the pool. It is way, way too big for it. Mom is reading and does not see the whale. The boy tries persuasion, counting to 10, enticing the whale into a game of fetch, even offering his allowance, but the whale does not budge. He even offers his neighbor’s much larger in-ground swimming pool (alert young readers will note the dorsal fin visible in the neighbor’s clear blue waters). Finally, he puts his floatie on top of the whale’s spout, just in time to hear Mom call naptime. That presents its own set of problems: not the toys and socks that are strewn about the bedroom floor, but the snoring occupant of his bed—a large bear with its own teddy. The front endpapers show the blue whale in various positions on the wading pool, the back endpapers show the bear tossing and turning and snoring, all the while clinging to that teddy. All the art is drawn in thick strong line and flat color, simple and accessible. The text comprises the boy’s play-by-play narration of the events, including an endearingly believable whine to his oblivious mother.

Both very silly and very appealing. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-374-30037-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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THIS BOOK IS GRAY

A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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