DOG ON A FROG?

In a delightfully ridiculous continuation to Frog on a Log? (2015), when the bossy, rhyming cat announces where everyone must sit, the frog asserts a change in the rules.

Picking up from the first book’s last page, in which an amiable-looking basset is sitting on a frog, the nervous frog yells “HEY, DOG! GET OFF THE FROG.” Once again the know-it-all cat appears, restating the rules: “Cats sit on mats, / frogs sit on logs, / and dogs sit on FROGS!” But the frog protests and revises the rules to say “Dogs sit on logs, / and cats sit on gnats.” “OUCH!” exclaims the shocked cat. And so begins another round of cleverly silly statements about the proper seating of an assortment of different animals, insects, and even some fantastical beings (“dragons will sit on wagons,” and “canaries will sit on fairies”). All are assigned rhyming seating locations by the frog, whose ultimate revenge is a very comfortable lounge chair. The previous book’s winning layout is repeated, with boldly colored, opaque backgrounds hosting a bunch of surprised- or distressed-looking cartoon animals atop their ludicrously assigned perches. The fun of matching a nonsensical rhyme for each character will have kids shrieking with laughter as each new illustration is viewed. And new readers will swiftly acclimate to the repetitive pattern and smart vocabulary.

A triumphant sequel. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-11695-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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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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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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