The book is a pale substitute for its advice.

READ REVIEW

PLAY OUTSIDE!

As Mom exhorts her two children to go outside and play, their imaginations summon diverse geographical regions from around the world, all densely populated by animals.

All three humans—mom and two kids—are flat images, white as paper and outlined in red. After the children’s unruly indoor behavior results in a broken vase, the mother orders them outside. Each following double-page spread shows the children against a new backdrop while the mother’s banal suggestions for how to spend their time outside appear above each scene. Initially, one kid follows Mom’s suggestions (“lie in the grass and look for shapes in the clouds”) while the other flies a kite. When that child loses hold of the string of the kite, both run after it as some tired, ecological preachiness incongruously enters Mom’s words. Only occasionally does the art make clear any interaction between the children and the scores of primitive-art animals. The text offers some clarification when the children return home: “Mom! If only you knew what we’ve seen!” In fact, the art here and on the final spread lends much-needed humor to a rather lifeless book. There is the opportunity for children to look at each animal in the earlier pages and then find its duplicate on pages that reveal its main homeland and its endangered status. It’s not a big challenge; the animals are grouped by region.

The book is a pale substitute for its advice. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-324-01547-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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