This sophisticated farmyard tale is sprinkled with gentle plays on words and is sure to spark discussion about secrets of...

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A SECRET KEEPS

Chall employs alliteration and rhyme to lyrically portray a young boy’s quiet adventure on his grandparents’ farm.

After a car trip that lasts “two sleeps,” the boy is eager to find the secret his Grampa has promised in this bucolic landscape. He questions his grandparents and the animals during a campfire, a henhouse visit and a cornfield trek. At bedtime the moon inspires him to slip outside. Under the moonlight he fancies himself a pirate going aboard a galleon. “Where is the secret treasure?” “I find the ladder, / take a breath, / then climb up to the loft. / Shhhh, the pirate hushes. / Then something brushes, / something soft.” Astute readers will already know the answer from a foreshadowed “mew.” It is the interplay between the author’s poetic language and the lush illustrations Solomon provides that elevates the story from the usual new-pet fare. A mix of various paints and collage creates dreamy settings rooted with sharp details. On a pivotal spread, watery deep-blue barn planks bleed together while the finely detailed straw focuses readers’ attention (and the boy’s) to the destination of his surprise. “Finders, keepers” does apply.

This sophisticated farmyard tale is sprinkled with gentle plays on words and is sure to spark discussion about secrets of all kinds—those to keep, discover and share. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7613-5593-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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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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