The pacing and feelings ring true in this heartwarming depiction of someone accustomed to being the center of his universe...

READ REVIEW

OTTO AND PIO

In this French-Canadian import, when a mysterious pod appears on the branch outside his home, a squirrel must decide the limits of his responsibility for the creature within.

At first, Otto steps over the sphere. Even when it hatches and a white fur ball calls him “Mommy,” the homeowner rushes inside: “Otto wasn’t curious, but he was cautious.” Eventually relenting, he offers the baby a spot in his hammock. Each day, the critter grows at an alarming rate, eating hazelnuts, occupying more sleeping space, and inadvertently breaking furniture. All the while, the bushy-tailed protagonist searches for the mother, to no avail. Conflicted, but cramped, Otto stomps off, ignoring his own advice to be watchful of the eagle. In the nick of time, he is rescued from menacing talons, and Otto decides that renovations to expand his property are in order. Convincing dialogue provides the emotional arc, while Dubuc’s pencil-and-watercolor scenes depict the cozy woodland life that animal lovers fantasize about. Close-ups reveal curtains at the home’s window and a lantern illuminating the entrance; Pio, as the creature calls himself, prepares a soothing vegetable stew and strings colorful yard decorations to please his hardworking host. Longer views show the bulk of the tree and the starlit sky beyond.

The pacing and feelings ring true in this heartwarming depiction of someone accustomed to being the center of his universe but who responds to the impulse of hospitality and friendship. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61689-760-4

Page Count: 68

Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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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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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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