THERE’S A BILLY GOAT IN THE GARDEN

Using a premise similar to the plot in Jan Brett’s Berlioz the Bear (1991), this much simpler tale uses rhyme and repetition to delight young readers who will revel in the predictable result of the bee’s entrance into the story. Each animal claims he is bigger than the one before it and is sure that he can get the billy goat out of the garden—but of course, the “billy goat will NOT COME OUT.” That simple refrain carries the tale forward as one animal after another sniffs and sorts or clips and clops in an effort to move the billy goat out of the garden. In the end it is not bigger and better but the tiny bee that accomplishes the task as he buzzes all about. Basing her story on a Puerto Rican folktale, Gugler (Facing the Day, not reviewed, etc.) has created a retelling that begs the active participation of young listeners. Repeated readings will engage very young listeners and will invite independent readings by a slightly older child. Beaton’s (Never Say Boo to a Goose, 2002, etc.) clever, felt appliqués are enhanced with beads, buttons, and stitching that seem perfectly suited to a tale that portrays the goat as being in the garden surrounded by clothing on the line and flowers sprouting from the green grass. This rhythm-filled tale is a perfect choice for those libraries serving the youngest of readers. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 1-84148-089-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Barefoot

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2003

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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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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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