Even children who can’t yet read will get at least a portion of the joke.

TEN BIRDS

Ten birds frolic in fractured count-down number rhymes.

Ten birds, most with identifying hats and cloaks, open this series of misfortunes in a wordless double-page spread showing a concert that, from their expressions, must be more cacophonous than musical. Then disaster happens: “Ten fine birds were sitting in a line / When the fence got smashed, / which was not a good sign, / So then there were NIGN.” Similar calamities follow, each with its ending number misspelled to fit the rhyme. The verses appear on the left-hand pages, along with a pictorial hint about which bird will disappear. On the facing page, bordered at the top and bottom with white, are Gebert’s illustrations of each catastrophe. (Some details are left for readers’ imaginations, as when the “six scared birds” encounter a crocodile.) But all ends well. Readers will have to judge for themselves whether it’s the parent owl or child that leaves the nest to “WUN,” but the eggs inside miraculously hatch all 10 again. They end the tale with a quiet picnic. Wilson's clever translation of the German Mit großem Krach: Vom Reimen auf Biegen und Brechen (2012) preserves the tortured rhymes and most of the mispronunciations of the numbers.

Even children who can’t yet read will get at least a portion of the joke. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4100-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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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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A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers.

THE INFAMOUS RATSOS

From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 1

Two little rats decide to show the world how tough they are, with unpredictable results.

Louie and Ralphie Ratso want to be just like their single dad, Big Lou: tough! They know that “tough” means doing mean things to other animals, like stealing Chad Badgerton’s hat. Chad Badgerton is a big badger, so taking that hat from him proves that Louie and Ralphie are just as tough as they want to be. However, it turns out that Louie and Ralphie have just done a good deed instead of a bad one: Chad Badgerton had taken that hat from little Tiny Crawley, a mouse, so when Tiny reclaims it, they are celebrated for goodness rather than toughness. Sadly, every attempt Louie and Ralphie make at doing mean things somehow turns nice. What’s a little boy rat supposed to do to be tough? Plus, they worry about what their dad will say when he finds out how good they’ve been. But wait! Maybe their dad has some other ideas? LaReau keeps the action high and completely appropriate for readers embarking on chapter books. Each of the first six chapters features a new, failed attempt by Louie and Ralphie to be mean, and the final, seventh chapter resolves everything nicely. The humor springs from their foiled efforts and their reactions to their failures. Myers’ sprightly grayscale drawings capture action and characters and add humorous details, such as the Ratsos’ “unwelcome” mat.

A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7636-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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