Agreeable animal fun but weightless as a too-brief visit to the zoo.

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SLOTH TO THE RESCUE

When a girl leaves her school project at the zoo, it’s up to Sloth and his faster-moving friends to deliver the notebook back to her.

Patti’s been spending her summer working on a set of drawings to turn in at the beginning of school. Sloth, who looks like a fuzzy gray log with an expressive, wide face, adores Patti, who, like Sloth, never seems in any rush. When Sloth notices she’s left her notebook, he calls to action Peccary, Boa, Capuchin, and Ocelot to give him some assistance. Slowly, of course: “Let’s. go. on. a. field. trip…” he suggests. Shirtliffe cleverly assigns tasks according to the animals’ strengths. When they arrive at Patti’s school, Peccary is great at lining up, skin-shedding Boa fits right in in the coat room, and so on. Sloth, for his part, can meditate and remain calm until he locates Patti. Lively illustrations throughout portray superfriendly animals, Sloth in particular, interacting with charmed children at a school that clearly has great liability insurance. Backmatter explains some of the behaviors of animals and people that inspired the book, ending with a useful plug for animal-rescue centers. For all its charm, however, the story stops a little short and feels lightweight overall, without adding much to the current vogue of sloths as cuddly spirit animals for the unrushed or perpetually late.

Agreeable animal fun but weightless as a too-brief visit to the zoo. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7624-9159-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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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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