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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JOHN PHILIP DUCK

Edward and his father work for the Peabody Hotel in Memphis since the Depression has brought hard times for so many. On weekends they return to their farm in the hills and it’s there Edward finds John Philip Duck, named for the composer whose marches Edward listens to on the radio. Edward has to look after the scrawny duckling during the week, so he risks the ire of the hotel manager by taking John Philip with him. The expected occurs when Mr. Shutt finds the duckling. The blustery manager makes Edward a deal. If Edward can train John Philip to swim in the hotel fountain all day (and lure in more customers), Edward and the duck can stay. After much hard work, John Philip learns to stay put and Edward becomes the first Duck Master at the hotel. This half-imagined story of the first of the famous Peabody Hotel ducks is one of Polacco’s most charming efforts to date. Her signature illustrations are a bit brighter and full of the music of the march. An excellent read aloud for older crowds, but the ever-so-slightly anthropomorphic ducks will come across best shared one-on-one. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-399-24262-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2004

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