However appealing the device, this pales in comparison to the many other, superior animal alphabets already out there.

THE ZOO'S GRAND OPENING

AN ABC AND COUNTING BOOK

This German abecedary uses an imaginative device in which a series of animals arrives at a new zoo.

Rhyming descriptions feature each creature’s characteristics as the zookeeper and his assistant interact with the new arrivals. “When she glided in across the rug, / Our ANACONDA gave me a hug. / As the first one here, I guess she’s the winner, / But why does she keep on mentioning dinner?” (Presumably the translation and the necessity to rhyme force the contextually peculiar “rug.”) The illustration shows the snake wrapped around the keeper and wearing his cap. The first-person narration is carried throughout. Some animal choices are unusual; D is for Dromedary, while C is for Chameleon, for instance. H is for Hare, not rabbit, and N is for Nile crocodile. For the challenging letters, Q is for Quoll, U for Uakari and X for Xinusil (a “martian…from the moon”). The interactions of the two men with the animals add some nuanced humor. The subtitle states the book is an ABC and a counting book, but the counting part is incidental; 26 numbers run across the tops of the pages, with each ascending number highlighted. There is no legend to the animals.

However appealing the device, this pales in comparison to the many other, superior animal alphabets already out there. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-3-89955-714-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Little Gestalten

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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Hee haw.

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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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PUG BLASTS OFF

From the Diary of a Pug series , Vol. 1

A cuddly, squishy pug’s puggy-wuggy diary.

Equipped with both #pugunicorn and #pughotdog outfits, pug Baron von Bubbles (aka Bub) is the kind of dog that always dresses to impress. Bub also makes lots of memorable faces, such as the “Hey, you’re not the boss of me!” expression aimed at Duchess, the snooty pink house cat. Some of Bub’s favorite things include skateboarding, a favorite teddy, and eating peanut butter. Bub also loves Bella, who adopted Bub from a fair—it was “love at first sniff.” Together, Bub and Bella do a lot of arts and crafts. Their latest project: entering Bella’s school’s inventor challenge by making a super-duper awesome rocket. But, when the pesky neighborhood squirrel, Nutz, makes off with Bub’s bear, Bub accidentally ruins their project. How will they win the contest? More importantly, how will Bella ever forgive him? May’s cutesy, full-color cartoon art sets the tone for this pug-tastic romp for the new-to–chapter-books crowd. Emojilike faces accentuate Bub’s already expressive character design. Bub’s infectious first-person narration pushes the silly factor off the charts. In addition to creating the look and feel of a diary, the lined paper helps readers follow the eight-chapter story. Most pages have fewer than five sentences, often broken into smaller sections. Additional text appears in color-coded speech bubbles. Bella presents white.

Totes adorbs. (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-53003-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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