FRANKIE WORKS THE NIGHT SHIFT

“Frankie works the night shift. / He empties one wastebasket. / He cleans two counters.” Yes, Frankie the yellow tabby cat works and counts his way around the hardware store until he “spots an intruder behind six hammers! / He follows it up / and down / seven ladders. / He chases it in and out of eight nail bins.” The chase lands the both of them on the beds of the nine bosses, who aren’t too keen on being awakened—until one of them spots the intruding mouse. Then Frankie has a cheering section as he chases it from the store. After a good night’s work (and ten big yawns), Frankie settles down to his daytime routine—which looks to include a bit of napping. Peters’s sly counting-cat tale is given a huge boost of silliness and adrenalin by newcomer Taylor’s photo-based digital collages. The puss playing Frankie and his mousey co-star leap and climb across the full-bleed, mostly two-page dynamically composed spreads with gleeful abandon. Enormously entertaining, particularly for the I Spy set. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-009095-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Greenwillow

Review Posted Online: Dec. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2010

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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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THE POUT-POUT FISH

The pout-pout fish, painted a suitable blue, is so named for his perpetual gloom: “I’m a pout-pout fish / With a pout-pout face, / So I spread the dreary-wearies / All over the place.” When a jellyfish complains about his “daily scaly scowl,” the glum fish agrees, but says his mood isn’t up to him. A squid, dubbing the fish “a kaleidoscope of mope,” receives the same defeatist answer, as do other sea creatures. Up to this point, the story is refreshing in that readers will no doubt recognize the pout-pout fish in their own lives, and in many cases, there’s just no cheering these people up. But the plot takes a rather unpalatable turn when a shimmery girl fish kisses the gloomster right on his pouty mouth. With that kiss, he transforms into the “kiss-kiss fish” and swims around “spreading cheery-cheeries all over the place,” meaning that he starts to smooch every creature in sight. (Don’t try this at school, kids, you’ll get suspended!) Still, there’s plenty of charm here, both in the playful language (“hulky-bulky sulking!”) and in the winning artwork—Hanna’s cartoonish undersea world swims with hilarious bug-eyed creatures that ooze personality. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 21, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-374-36096-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2008

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