A gem.

READ REVIEW

CARAMBA AND HENRY

Little brothers can be soooo bothersome.

Kitten Caramba had wished for a brother for a long time, but not one like Henry. Henry squishes Caramba's favorite caterpillars, throws his cheese omelets out the window and screams all the time. Caramba's best friend, a pig named Portia, suggests that Caramba teach Henry how to purr, but Caramba rejects this plan; only contended cats purr. And then Henry starts flying! Caramba wanted to teach him to swim, but why would he want to swim when he can fly? As Henry is flying all around, mother puts Caramba in charge. Henry keeps getting tangled in clotheslines and scarves and suchlike. Neither butterfly net nor shopping bag is a good carrier. Then Caramba gets a brilliant idea (even Portia thinks so): She pulls Henry along like a balloon. This works well, until Henry wriggles free and flies away. Caramba and Portia search into the dark night and find him clinging to a small branch at the top of a tall tree. Caramba talks him down, and Henry utters his very first word: "Car-r-r-amba." Gay puts many delightful quirks into a highly recognizable tale of sibling rivalry, and her singular illustrations—a delicate mix of watercolor, pencil, pastels and acrylics—are unique and captivating. Her matter-of-fact text charms: "He whirled his tail like a tiny egg beater."

A gem. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-55498-097-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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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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