JULIUS ANTEATER, MISUNDERSTOOD

No wonder Julius Anteater is misunderstood. For one thing, for a member of the order Edentata (meaning, no-teeth!), he looks a bit like a cross between a toothy crocodile and a dachshund. For another thing, Julius is looking for tasty ants in all the wrong places, such as in Mr. Green’s toupee at school and at the zoo where a truncated “Elephants” sign spells “ants” to him (“I had a hunch / I’d get ants for lunch”). After Julius is kicked out of the zoo for burrowing (for ants), his police escorts soon begin to chase after a bank robber, dragging the anteater along. In the kerfluffle, Julius apprehends the criminal (asks him about ants, actually) and becomes a town hero, but to the monomaniacal ant-seeker, the glory and mouthful of greenbacks mean nothing. Poor Julius, misunderstood again. Pasted-on photographs of plastic animals, Mr. Green’s toupee, peanuts and more enliven colorful, childlike paintings with Maira Kalman–like characters. Anyone with a healthy appetite for nonsense (if not ants) will relish this rhyming madcap adventure. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-59643-042-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Deborah Brodie/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2005

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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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Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed.

YOU DON'T WANT A DRAGON!

If you thought having a unicorn as a pet was hard, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tried owning a dragon.

The young protagonist of You Don’t Want a Unicorn! (2017) is back, and they clearly haven’t learned their lesson. Now they’ve wished for a pet dragon. As the intrusive narrator is quick to point out, everything about it seems fun at the beginning. However, it’s not long before the doglike dragon starts chasing squirrels, drooling, pooping (ever wondered where charcoal comes from?), scooting its butt across the floor (leaving fire and flames behind), and more. By now, the dragon has grown too huge to keep, so the child (who appears white and also to live alone) wishes it away and settles for a cute little hamster instead. A perfect pet…until it finds a stray magical cupcake. Simple cartoon art and a surfeit of jokes about defecation suggest this book will find an appreciative audience. The dragon/dog equivalences are cute on an initial read, but they may not be strong enough to convince anyone to return. Moreover, a surprising amount of the plot hinges on having read the previous book in this series (it’s the only way readers will know that cupcakes are unicorn poop).

Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53580-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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