A lively visual tale of friendship and bravery—charming.



A little white dog and its human friend use their excavator to rescue a puppy in this endearing wordless picture book.

Clad in matching yellow safety vests, a dog and a human live and work together on a construction site, and their specialty is the excavator. After running the equipment all morning, the pair heads to the snack stand to have lunch with the young woman of color who runs it and her puppy. While the humans chat, the little white dog is keeping an eye on the site when cries of distress arise from a drain grate, where the puppy has become trapped. When the dog and its human are unable to reach the frightened pup on their own, the little dog suggests (with a tug on the vest) using the excavator grab to save the day. Prendergast’s pencil-sketch illustrations are full of movement and fine detail, using broad panel layout to show multiple angles of perspective and to reveal the full narrative impact of each scene. Even the dogs’ vocalizations are wordless, represented by jagged yellow lines that deftly convey urgency. The mostly gray palette is broken up by the assured deployment of bright yellow and blue to draw focus and highlight emotional tension, though the bright-on-bright of light gray and yellow in some of the panels may prove difficult for readers with low contrast sensitivity. The excavator operator has pale skin.

A lively visual tale of friendship and bravery—charming. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0041-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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.


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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