Not much to love.

READ REVIEW

LOVE BIG

A book about…kindness?

It’s actually hard to say what this book is about. Sadly, it’s also difficult to find much kind to say about this convoluted story set “in the wilds of East Africa.” Digital illustrations depicting lightly anthropomorphized, talking animals are bright and engaging enough, but they fail to make up for the rambling story’s many plot holes and meandering tangents. At first, the animals are “hungry, mean, and had stopped believing in their dreams.” The ensuing pages detail a series of events in which the animals help one another out of various predicaments and in doing so find joy. This might seem like a straightforward premise, but the text confounds readers with: repeated, arbitrary refrains of “Wa-Hu-Wa-Hu-Wa-You”; uses of the (mystifyingly capitalized) word “BUFF” as an undefined compliment to mean something like “kind” (“That was really BUFF of you”); odd dung beetle jokes that don’t quite land; and a bizarre interlude that’s supposed to be sung to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus” but lacks the appropriate cadence. Closing, baffling text reads “Wa-Whoo! / Shake your pompoms, / Share big smiles, / Light your stardust, / We’ll all go miles” as several animals dance about. Ultimately, it’s a bizarre amalgamation of words, pictures, and a quasi-moral, culminating with four pages of incomprehensible backmatter prompts for extension activities and discussion.

Not much to love. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62634-600-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 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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Take strength from the dreamers before you and follow your dreams. Or maybe just roll the dice.

LITTLE JOE CHICKAPIG

Is it a book about aspirations or the backstory for the board game?

Chickapig is defined as “an animal hybrid that is half-chicken and half-pig” and is depicted in yellow, two-legged chick shape with pink pig snout and ears. Young Joe Chickapig lives on a farm that was his grandfather’s dream, but it’s getting Joe down. He dreams of adventure but needs the “courage to follow his heart. / But how could he do it? How could he start?” In a bedtime story, Joe’s mother shares the influential characters that helped Joe’s sailor grandfather “follow his heart against the tide.” It seems that “Grandpa had heard a story told / Of a great big bear who broke the mold. / The bear was tired of striking fear”—so he became a forest doctor and a friend to all. And the bear’s inspiration? “A mouse who went to space.” The mouse, in turn, found hope in a “fierce young dragon” who joined a rock band. And coming full circle, the dragon found courage from a Chickapig warrior who “tired of shields and swords to wield” and established a farm. Chickapig game fans will appreciate this fanciful rhyming tale illustrated in attention-grabbing colors, but readers coming to it cold will note a distinct absence of plot. Mouse and dragon present female; all others are male.

Take strength from the dreamers before you and follow your dreams. Or maybe just roll the dice. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7944-4452-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Printers Row

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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