The importance of keeping promises is delivered with a hearty dose of humor, making this a book to return to.

PARTY CROC!

A FOLKTALE FROM ZIMBABWE

A jolly Zimbabwean folk tale teaches the importance of keeping promises.

Zuva wishes for something to catch fish with when a friendly crocodile offers to catch some for her. But he wants something in return. Zuva promises the crocodile a food-filled party in town on Saturday if only he will get her some fish today. She figures the crocodile will forget the promise and won’t know when Saturday is. But this is a party croc, whose enthusiasm for the promised party will not let him forget it. Zuva shares the crocodile’s fish with the village but does not give proper credit. Each day, the excited crocodile checks in to see which day of the week it is, the patterned text lending itself to audience participation in MacDonald’s trademark style. When Saturday arrives, he is ready to roll. Surprised, Zuva tries to keep the crocodile quiet by feeding him, but the croc is not satisfied and disturbs the village, uncovering Zuva’s omission. Digitally stylized villagers, their mouths painted to the sides of their faces, meet the jolly crocodile’s questions with confusion, allowing readers to be in on the joke. Details add to the fun: He is dolled up with fish bracelets and a leaf bow tie! A brief author’s note details the origin of the tale.

The importance of keeping promises is delivered with a hearty dose of humor, making this a book to return to. (Picture book/folk tale. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6320-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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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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Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale.

YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL

From the You Are (Not) Small series

Fuzzy, bearlike creatures of different sizes relate to one another in an amusing story that explores the relative nature of size.

A small purple creature meets a similarly shaped but much larger orange critter. The purple creature maintains that the orange creature is “big”; the orange one counters by calling the purple one “small.” This continues, devolving into a very funny shouting match, pages full of each type of creature hollering across the gutter. This is followed by a show-stopping double-page spread depicting two huge, blue legs and the single word “Boom!” in huge display type. Tiny, pink critters then float down by parachute, further complicating the size comparisons. Eventually, these brightly colored animals learn to see things in a different way. In the end, they decide they are all hungry and trudge off to eat together. The story is told effectively with just a few words per page, though younger readers might need help understanding the size and perspective concepts. Cartoon-style illustrations in ink and watercolor use simple shapes with heavy black outlines set off by lots of white space, with an oversized format and large typeface adding to the spare but polished design. While the story itself seems simple, the concepts are pertinent to several important social issues such as bullying and racism, as well as understanding point of view.

Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4772-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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