For fans of fairy tales and vibrant visuals.

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SOOTYPAWS

A CINDERELLA STORY

Mouse miniatures create a cinematic “Cinderella” story with a soft twist.

“Ball! Palace! Prince!” cry the cruel stepsister rats, setting up the main event of this murine twist on the familiar tale. Sootypaws, a frankly mousy-looking mouse, longs for love from a lonely fireside, orphaned and relegated to domestic chores. Felt anthropomorphic mouse miniatures interact in spreads, with lifelike shadows, varying depths of focus, and bird’s-eye views creating cinematic movement for the story. Rudy’s detailed sets and varied perspectives may well resonate with young readers accustomed to movie versions of “Cinderella.” A theme of kindness and mutual aid surrounds the transformation of Sootypaws from frumpy char-mouse to a ball-ready rodent. Sootypaws’s rose-petal gown stands out from the more muted and uniform costumes of the mouse gentry as she twirls into the prince’s arms for a night of dancing. The standard lost-slipper moment leads to a twist ending that rejects marriage but still contains heteronormative implications. Decadent double-page spreads, such as the scene of the prince’s ball, offer opportunities for readers to play an informal seek-and-find game: identifying the classical instruments in the band, counting the number of wigs, or exploring the intricate design of the staircase could occupy a whole sitting. Matter-of-fact text and a plain typeface allow readers to focus on the elaborate images.

For fans of fairy tales and vibrant visuals. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-18604-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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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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