Bernard’s conquest of his inner fear stands out as a quiet triumph.

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BERNARD MAKES A SPLASH!

In this British import, the canine manager of a swimming pool enters a diving contest and overcomes his fear of the high diving board.

Bernard is a basset hound who manages the pool by day and secretly practices diving by himself at night. When elite dog divers gather for the pool’s annual competition, Bernard somehow signs up to participate. When it is his turn to dive, however, Bernard is too nervous to even try to participate in the first round. He has another chance in the second heat and finds encouragement from his new friend, a female German wirehaired pointer and accomplished diver named Perrie Piccalilli. Bernard completes his dive with somersaults, spirals, and spins, and he receives a special gold-star award for his efforts. The humorous, rhyming text is uneven in quality, with some lines spot-on in dramatic cadence and a few word pairs that break the rhythm or stretch for meaning and/or rhyme. The divers are a diverse cast of canines, including many breeds and both males and females. The audience for the competition includes other kinds of animals and people of many races. Mixed-media illustrations with collage elements have a loose, impressionistic effect and include endearing expressions on Bernard’s anxious face. An enticing cover shows Bernard diving into the pool; a hand-scrawled title in what looks like black crayon attracts with its naïve charm.

Bernard’s conquest of his inner fear stands out as a quiet triumph. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-84976-660-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tate/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 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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