Ultimately, though mildly amusing, there’s no real magic here.




It’s the old story: will cat and dog play, er, cat-and-mouse games—or join forces?

Officer Katz, chief cop of Kitty City and an exceptional inventor, is retiring. His goal before leaving law enforcement? To do what no cat has done before: catch Houndini, the renowned dog escape artist. Houndini’s in town for his annual performance, and Katz is determined finally to nab him. In this thin story filled with animal-themed puns whose meanings will, alas, elude younger members of the target audience (“paw-parazzi,” anyone?), storyline logic escapes as well. Children may be puzzled by the central premise that the cat needs to capture Houndini, particularly since it’s noted that the dog is welcomed every year by enraptured feline crowds. Determined to pull off his final caper, Katz utilizes one ingenious invention after another, but presto! Houndini always foils him— except for Katz’s final attempt when he unwittingly ensnares the dog in his most clever contraption. Houndini then convinces Katz they should become a team, and Katz agrees to join the traveling act, making for a somewhat satisfying, though unconvincing, ending. Broadcasting early on that Houndini’s frustrated that his act has become lackluster also means few surprises in the final scene. The cheery, lively illustrations, which feature an expressive, all-animal cast of varied species, sizes, and colors, depict an elongated, uniformed Katz and stout, mustachioed Houndini; humorous newspaper “headlines” will capture attention.

Ultimately, though mildly amusing, there’s no real magic here. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2265-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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

Did you like this book?

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet