SIXTEEN COWS

Verse with all the spunk of dueling banjos and honeyed watercolors are a pleasingly combustible combination in this rollicking romance. The story pivots about Cowboy Gene and Cowgirl Sue and their cows, who share adjoining acreage on the lonesome prairie. Cowgirl Sue has the high ground, while Cowboy Gene makes his home down in the valley, and never the two mix until the day a tornado comes through and sends their fence flying to parts unknown. When the herds start to mingle, both Gene and Sue set to yodeling for their charges. The cows first head toward Gene, then back toward Sue: “The cows all did the polka, as Sue commenced to singin’. / They trotted up to Waddle Ranch, their cowbells just a ringin’! / Sixteen cows together, ran up the hill and down. / Sixteen cows could not decide which was the sweeter sound.” Finally, the two cowpokes stop their singing feud and start to admire each other’s cows, then each other, plain and simple. Wedding bells split the air, and cows as bridesmaids make their first appearance in children’s literature. A rousing little number, best read not right before bed, for the proceedings are spirited and the dancing cows inspire some serious high stepping. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-15-202676-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2002

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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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