A trendy experiment in narrative, clumsily done and unlikely to gain much traction except as a curiosity.

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WHAT A DAY...

A STORY IN EMOJI

Pfister swaps out words for signs—mostly big dots with happy, sad, or mad faces—in this tale of a trickster raven’s ups and downs.

Instead of words, emojis do the communication here. Walking along distractedly beneath a tiny storm cloud, Raven bashes into a tree (stars), poses with a bandaged beak (frowning pile of dung), then discovers (smirking devil) that sporting more bandages earns more sympathy (hearts and haloed, smiling dots) from other birds. That exploit ends when Raven, totally swathed, is first mistaken for litter and swept up with other trash (scowling faces). The bird then seeks a bit of redemption by bringing a distressed worm (cue a tiny version of the dung, now alarmed) to a cute baby bird (more smiles and hearts). The emojis, enlarged and redrawn with slightly more modeling than seen in standard versions, float singly or in clusters like balloons in the woodsy cartoon scenes. Though they work as broad signals of mood, their placement sometimes makes it unclear whether they’re supposed to apply to Raven or (the worm excepted) others. Also, the incandescent light bulb and devil’s face that appear when Raven first spots the baby bird plainly indicate some sort of trick in the offing, but Pfister leaves readers in the dark about what it might have been if the avian trickster hadn’t changed his mind on the next page. Some, not all, of the visual vocabulary is reproduced on two pages of large stickers at the end.

A trendy experiment in narrative, clumsily done and unlikely to gain much traction except as a curiosity. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-988-8341-23-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Minedition

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 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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But it is the parting sentence that will hit home with everyone: “But Rufus loved storytime most of all… / …because it gave...

RUFUS GOES TO SCHOOL

Rufus Leroy Williams III is determined to learn how to read, but can he convince Principal Lipid to allow a pig in school?

Rufus makes the best of his illiteracy by imagining his own stories to go with the pictures in his favorite book, but still he longs to read. The tiny pig knows just how to solve his problem, though: With a backpack, he can go to school. But Principal Lipid seems to think it takes more than a backpack to attend school—if you are a pig, that is, since pigs are sure to wreak all sorts of havoc in school: track mud, start food fights, etc. Rufus decides a lunchbox is just the ticket, but the principal feels differently. Maybe a blanket for naptime? Or promises not to engage in specific behaviors? Nope. But the real necessary items were with Rufus all along—a book and the desire to learn to read it. Gorbachev’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations emphasize Rufus’ small size, making both his desire and the principal’s rejection seem that much larger. Parents and teachers beware: The humorous pages of imagined, naughty behavior may be more likely to catch children’ eyes than Rufus’ earnestly good behavior.

But it is the parting sentence that will hit home with everyone: “But Rufus loved storytime most of all… / …because it gave him room to dream.” (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4549-0416-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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