THE KING’S TASTER

Narrated by a bespectacled beagle, Oppel’s pedantic offering mixes a “be your authentic self” vibe with an admonishment not to spoil your appetite with sweets. “I’m the king’s taster, but I’m the cook’s dog,” says Max. When the new boy-king rebuffs Cook’s efforts, Max and Cook undertake a series of overnight travels in search of delectably palatable recipes to tempt his majesty. The forays yield predictable but tempting results: fries from France, pizza from Venice (not Napoli?) and “chili tacos” from Mexico, all summarily rejected—and ejected—by the bratty king. Once ratted out (thanks to Max) for eating those appetite-suppressing sweets, the king becomes a convert to Cook’s cuisine. “Ask me for anything…and it shall be yours!” he raves. Accordingly, the last spread depicts both Cook’s dream-come-true and the story arc’s conclusion, with Cook and Max outside their own eatery, a pub called “The King’s Taster.” Workmanlike collages by the accomplished Fancher and Johnson combine textiles, scrawled recipes and painterly elements in a muted, Old World palette that matches the ambitious plotting. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-06-075372-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2009

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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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A BIRTHDAY FOR COW!

Thomas scores again after What Will Fat Cat Sit On? (2007) with another droll crowd-pleaser for the OshKosh B’Gosh set. Scornfully rejecting Duck’s hilariously persistent efforts to add a turnip, Pig and Mouse create a luscious cake—only to find themselves saddled with eating it themselves (not that they mind) when Cow obliviously falls on Duck’s turnip, rapturously declaring this birthday the best one ever. Punctuated by punch-line words (usually “TURNIP”) in red, the huge, pithy text is paired to simply drawn figures that spill past the edges, and often seem ready to pop right up from the page. From the calendar countdown on the front endpapers (Cow’s birthday is October 17th, if you’re curious) to a closing joke on the rear ones about using turnips as toothbrushes, this riotous read-aloud is guaranteed to have them rolling in the aisles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-15-206072-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2008

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