An important idea handled gently and tenderly if a little simplistically. (Picture book. 4-8)

READ REVIEW

THE LITTLE MOON RAVEN

A tiny, weak raven is so determined to win the friendship of the other ravens that he puts himself in harm’s way.

Even when he develops prodigious flying skills, he cannot win acceptance. The other ravens dare him to fly to the moon, claiming they have all accomplished this feat. Although he tries with all his might and nearly reaches his goal, he falls to Earth, spent and in despair at his failure. One of the bullies who saw the flight (or perhaps dreamt it) admits the trick and begs forgiveness. As they join together to fly and play, they notice that the little raven has one mysterious, shining silver feather as a souvenir of his brave attempt. The regretful bully, now much older and wiser, tells the tale long after the events have been almost forgotten by the other ravens. This perspective allows readers to reflect on the effect bullying can have on both the perpetrator and the victim, albeit in an earnest, best-case scenario in which there is no lasting damage and great moral lessons are learned. Except for the mystical moon flight, Pfister’s effective, compelling illustrations depict the ravens flying or perched on branches against stark white backgrounds, while the moon, the raven’s wings and one feather shine in raised silver metallic foil.

An important idea handled gently and tenderly if a little simplistically. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-988-8240-81-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Minedition

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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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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