Potentially appropriate as bibliotherapy but otherwise unsatisfying.

MORE THAN FLUFF

Animals disregard, and then learn about, consent.

Daisy, a yellow chick who “happen[s] to be very fluffy,” endures attention familiar to anyone growing up little and cute. Other animals grin in her direction, squeezing: “Aren’t you the cutest thing?” and “I could just eat you up” (that inherent threat is more pronounced in the animal kingdom). “They [squeeze] her” and “[kiss] her” and “[pop] up out of nowhere and [try] to hug her,” and that “ruffle[s] Daisy’s feathers.” She tries avoiding the unwanted affection by covering herself in mud, running, and hiding, until she eventually loses her temper, pecks a turtle on the nose, and yells “I AM MORE THAN FLUFF!” This powerful beginning quickly pivots to a wooden emphasis on polite behavior, as Mom encourages Daisy to try “telling them how you feel…nicely.” Daisy then starts saying things like “Actually, it’s time for you to give me some personal space,” and “I don’t want a hug. But thanks for offering.” And she apologizes for pecking the turtle (who, quite frankly, deserved it). The strong emotions evoked in the beginning of this story move aside in favor of the idea that it’s important to be nice to people who are exerting power over you. Boundaries and consent are important for young readers, but the conclusion here disappoints. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 19.1% of actual size.)

Potentially appropriate as bibliotherapy but otherwise unsatisfying. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-17905-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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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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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...

THE BOOK HOG

A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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