Clarkson’s fans may like this, but Kenny Loggins’ Footloose, illustrated by Tim Bowers (2016), is a superior zoo...

RIVER ROSE AND THE MAGICAL LULLABY

Little River Rose has a magical adventure in Clarkson’s debut as a picture-book author.

Depicted as a little white girl with straw-colored hair, River Rose is so excited about tomorrow’s trip to the zoo that she cannot sleep until her mother sings the titular lullaby. In the middle of the night, she is woken by balloons squeaking outside her window. Grabbing them and her little black puppy, Joplin, she sails through the night and is deposited in the middle of the zoo. There, she and Joplin are greeted by throngs of happy animals for a night of play. It all comes to a halt when the polar bears tell her they’d rather not play but sleep: “The trick to fun is to let the day be done. / That's the secret that we keep,” they say. In a closing sequence that will mystify many young listeners, River Rose and Joplin snuggle down with a big polar bear and three cubs and then, with the turn of the page, are back in bed, the magical balloons sparkling quietly to the side. Clarkson’s text unreels in rhyming couplets that often feel forced when read aloud but may sound just right in the accompanying download (not available for review). Hughes’ scratchy illustrations are appropriately ebullient but add little to the text.

Clarkson’s fans may like this, but Kenny Loggins’ Footloose, illustrated by Tim Bowers (2016), is a superior zoo adventure/song combo. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-242756-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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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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