THE WEB FILES

There’s trouble brewing in the barnyard, and it’s up to Ducktective Web and his faithful sidekick Bill to sort it out. In Palatini’s (Mooseltoe, 2000, etc.) highly referential and pun-filled plot, the two dauntless ducks try to track down the culprit who stole a peck of the hen’s perfect purple, almost-pickled peppers. No, it’s not who you think, although the web-footed flatfoots encounter several familiar characters when the usual suspects are interrogated: a cornered Horner and the boy in blue frantically offer up alibis in a police station filled with blind mice and mittenless kittens, among others. Punctuated by a soundtrack—“DUM DE DUM DUM”—the plot takes the quacking coppers from crime scene to crime scene, till at last they catch up with . . . That Dirty Rat (“Book him, Ducko”). Egielski’s (Three Magic Balls, 2000, etc.) trademark cartoony illustrations depict a crowded, uncannily urban barnyard in which horses wear suits and helmets as they commute to work on bicycles, and a high-rise coop looms over the hen’s house. His stern Ducktective Web bears a remarkable resemblance to Sergeant Joe Friday. Paced breathlessly, related in a deadpan first-person narration by the Ducktective himself, the story’s outrageous silliness will tickle children—even as the references to old TV detective shows will delight the adults who read it to them. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7868-0419-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

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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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THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE

Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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