Presents kids with some great advice and solid solutions to the most common first-day what-ifs.

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SEA MONSTER'S FIRST DAY

Ernest discovers that making friends is sometimes the hardest part of starting school, but that with a little perseverance and imagination, things can turn around.

Ernest the sea monster starts his school day with a positive attitude, setting out to make some new friends. But somehow, something always goes awry. Ernest’s large size has a lot to do with it, and it isn’t long before the other fish in the lake are making fun and shunning him. But the sea monster doesn’t let that get him down—there’s plenty to do at school. He reads, sings, takes a field trip, tastes some new plants and plays tug-of-war. After lunch, he tries again, this time introducing himself to some sturgeon, who immediately befriend him. And by following his mother’s advice, his imagination allows him to use his large size to his advantage and make even more new friends. Without becoming preachy, Messner offers lots of great messages for children. While Rash’s gouache-and-ink illustrations don’t downplay Ernest’s sad feelings, they also don’t dwell on them. The cartoon sea monster exudes positivity, and the other species of fish have personalities all their own.

Presents kids with some great advice and solid solutions to the most common first-day what-ifs. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8118-7564-6

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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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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