Not what it says on the tin.

READ REVIEW

LOLA DUTCH

An energetic kid has an energetic day.

A tall, skinny white girl slides gleefully down a bannister, landing atop a tall bear who seems to be her guardian. Bear suggests tea and toast for breakfast, but Lola whips up a feast. At the library, “a little light reading” becomes stacks of books taller than Lola; at the park, Lola and Bear pause—not on a regular bridge but on Claude Monet’s Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies, inspired by Lola’s newly acquired knowledge of art. The pencil, gouache, and watercolor illustrations are whimsical and breezy, with a lovely airiness that helps give the lie to the piece’s premise. Both the opening lines—“This is Lola. Lola Dutch. Lola Dutch is a little bit much”—and Bear’s repetition of “a little bit much” or variations thereof imply a mischievous or melodramatic Lola. But in a picture-book world founded by Max and Eloise, Lola’s not intense or naughty; she’s merely exuberant. She elegantly re-creates Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam on her ceiling, adding herself and her friends to it. With a different illustrative style, a child-improvised Sistine Chapel at home could certainly be too “much,” but here it’s neither chaotic nor messy. Given that, the repeated premise chastises and chafes—and implies a call for quieter girls.

Not what it says on the tin. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-551-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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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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Aims high but just doesn’t get there.

LITTLE FOX AND THE WILD IMAGINATION

Beware the imagination that cannot be contained.

When Poppa Fox comes to pick his son up after school he finds Little Fox a complete grump. Happily, Poppa Fox knows just the way to perk up his kiddo. One minute they’re pretending to be race cars, the next they’re dinos on the bus, and then later they’re blasting off to outer space to grab some ice cream. Unfortunately, all that sugar before dinner means that Little Fox’s imagination is now primed to go haywire. Now he’s a robo squid destroying a broccoli forest (rather than eating his dinner), then a shark devouring his dad, who is driving a mail truck (that is, splashing way too much in the tub). Things calm down by bedtime, but when Poppa Fox tells his son he will pick him up again the next day, Little Fox already has big plans. As books built on the power of imagination go, this story starts out strong but loses steam about the time Little Fox loses his focus. Santat’s art does more than its fair share of the heavy lifting, particularly when Little Fox’s imagination is supposed to go off the rails. Madcap adventure never looked this fun. Yet the book can’t quite nail the landing, shifting tone from one page turn to the next, leaving readers ultimately unsatisfied. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 33.8% of actual size.)

Aims high but just doesn’t get there. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21250-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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