Whimsy in search of an audience.

I WISH I HAD A PET

Quirky dioramas illustrate this explication of pet care.

Rudy’s carefully composed scenes feature clever components and unexpected details, including felted figures, repurposed household objects, torn paper and objects from the natural world. The straightforward text begins by speaking directly to the small, pensive-looking mouse who appears on the first page: “Do you wish sometimes… / that you had a pet?” Many of the following spreads (a mix of single- and double-page) have only one or two simple declarative sentences or phrases, giving the text a staccato feel. All are useful suggestions: “Pick a pet that suits your style,” or “Pick a pet you’ll like to exercise.” The illustrations, meanwhile, provide offbeat extensions of the simple text—a fuzzy yellow caterpillar worn like a feather boa or a pair of bees flying on leashes. Most scenes have an old-fashioned feel, featuring antique toys, fancy miniature furniture, bits of lace, old letters and postage stamps—details that will resonate more with adults than young listeners. The few instances of mild humor are also likely to go over children’s heads. Despite the general-sounding advice, this is ultimately the very specific story of one young mouse’s search for the perfect pet—and a demonstration of one artist’s fascination with creating realistic rodents and placing them in charming domestic scenes.

Whimsy in search of an audience. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-5332-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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An ideal introduction to this familiar waterfowl—readers will enjoy diving right in.

JUST DUCKS!

Mallard ducks catch the attention of an observant young narrator. Join in on her day’s travels to learn a lot about these quacking creatures.

Quacks appear in graduated type from large to small to begin this informational gem. The daily activities of a young girl propel the easy-flowing language full of ducky details. Perfectly placed additional facts in smaller and similar-in-tone text are included on each spread. These seamless complements serve to explain unfamiliar terms such as “preening,” “dabbling” and “upending.” While Davies’ text gently informs, Rubbino’s mixed-media illustrations, done in a subdued palette of watery greens, grays and browns, truly impress. Mama ducks, drakes and ducklings alike hold the focus as they nest, search for food, swim, splash and sleep. The loose and childlike pictures capture essential details: the “secret patch of blue on each wing” and the “cute little curl on their tails.” At the end of the day (and book), readers find “The bridge is quiet, and there’s just the sound of rushing water and the stillness of the night.” But the page turn reveals another morning of “ducks—just ducks, down on the river that flows through the town.”

An ideal introduction to this familiar waterfowl—readers will enjoy diving right in. (index, note) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5936-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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