A warmhearted tribute to reading.

READ REVIEW

SURF'S UP

A sunny day near the ocean means different kinds of excitement for frog friends Bro and Dude.

Dude peeks into the window: “SURF’S UP, BRO!” But Bro is too immersed in a book to respond (“You’d rather read a book than go to the beach?” Dude asks incredulously), so Dude pops pal and surfboard onto the back of his push scooter. On the way, Bro is still reading: “WOWIE KAZOWIE!” The story (“about a man looking for a whale”) begins to unfold around them both. The looming whale, a stormy sea, a ship with a frog sporting a bicorn hat at the helm, and the mast cracking in two are suddenly right at hand. Bro’s thrilled enthusiasm and punchy exclamations as he finishes the book finally elicit Dude’s eager questions: “Did they catch the whale? Who got the gold?” and Bro’s sly response, “Not telling.” Miyares’ edge-to-edge illustrations, full of motion, capture in these frog characters a friendship that offers space to be oneself, with a nice reversal at the end: Dude has his nose in the book (“WHOA, DADDY-O”), and Bro catches a wave (“COWABUNGA!”). Newbery winner (The Crossover, 2014) Alexander’s humorous, tautly poetic dialogue between friends begs to be read aloud to small listeners or by new readers, and these frogs have cultural punch that many plain-vanilla animal characters lack. The nod to Moby-Dick is a bonus.

A warmhearted tribute to reading. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4220-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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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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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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