A community in miniature, fully realized and elucidated by sensitive storytelling.

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THE MOUSE MANSION

In 17 episodes, two winsome, knitted mice—best friends Sam and Julia—explore the thriving, multistory apartment community where they both live.

Dutch artist Schaapman’s extraordinary construction, 6 feet wide and towering nearly 10 feet tall, plays the deservedly starring role here, as photographed by Ton Bouwer. The two mice's everyday adventures take them to the recycling room, where they help the Ragman during his weekly pickup, and the bakery, where their dime buys a bagful of delicious if broken cookies. They help with Sam’s new triplet siblings as well as the laundry (working together to neatly quell the foamy chaos that results when Julia uses too much soap). Julia lives with her mom; their small apartment’s rough basics contrast with Sam’s extended family’s comfortable digs. Julia’s weeklong bout with chicken pox (the spots are, rather charmingly, embroidered on) illuminates her mother’s loving care. A later visit to Sam’s aunt’s family for dinner on the Jewish Sabbath further expands Julia’s cultural understanding. In turn, Julia’s venturesome nature, steadfast friendship and predilection for “big adventures” help Sam to overcome his shyness and fears. Schaapman’s ingenious miniature interiors are certain to captivate all ages. From tiny wooden toys and well-scaled textiles to Sam’s grandpa’s faded sailor tattoos, the thoroughgoing attention to detail consistently fascinates.

A community in miniature, fully realized and elucidated by sensitive storytelling. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4049-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 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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