TURK AND RUNT

It’s difficult to explain why Runt, the aptly named young gobbler in Wheeler’s tale, cares for the well-being of his hale and hearty older brother, Turk, as in turkey, real and metaphorical. Runt’s parents lavish all their attention on Turk, all their praise, hopes, and counsel. “He’s a dancer,” said his mother. “He’s an athlete,” said his father. “He’s a goner,” said Runt, for only Runt seems to understand that handsome, plump birds get the chop at holiday time. Runt is full of such Woody Allen quips, and like Woody, Runt is also the unlikely hero, saving Turk from being purchased, roasted, and gently basted, by acting like a lunatic and scaring off potential buyers. Then, when a pinched and parsimonious shrew sets her sights on Runt, it’s Turk’s turn to do the right thing, and he pulls through. Wheeler’s (Sailor Moo, Cow at Sea, p. 890, etc.) comic timing is well tuned here—even if her repetitive authorial aside, “But no one ever listened to Runt,” quickly begins to grate. But most inspired are the luxurious watercolors from Ansley (Wool Gathering, 2001), with their midnight blues, regal purples, and turkey-skinned pinks depicting Turk in his football gear and assorted buyers in their most comic animation. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-84761-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Richard Jackson/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2002

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Hee haw.

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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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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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