This advancement of patriarchy is way past its sell-by date.



Anthropomorphic animals hold a presidential vote in this story originally published in France in 2012.

In a land inhabited by big-eyed, anthropomorphic animals, the male lion is always elected president. Every five years he asks, “Who’s voting for me?” and all the animals give him their votes, after which they “have as much cake and strawberry-coconut juice as they [want].” But when a mouse challenges this practice and says there should be more than one candidate, the other animals get on their candidate soapboxes—and some clever political satire follows. After the secret vote is held, each candidate, one per animal group, has received one vote except for the lion, who didn’t vote. (The system represented seems to be quasi-parliamentary—only each group’s representative has a vote—making this a poor primer for U.S. electoral politics.) Chaos ensues as each new president engages in partisan self-interest. Disenchanted, the mouse seeks out the lion to help—which the lion agrees to do by becoming president again. This theme of patriarchy is reinforced by subtle misogynistic messages: The female ostrich is depicted as silly, the female carp as unintelligible, and the lioness as merely a helpmate to the lion. There’s also a not-so-subtle message about initiative: Don’t bother, the story seems to say, since only the lion is wise enough to preside over a diverse population. The colorful, well-rendered illustrations are lively and often amusing in their clever depictions of animals’ expressions and actions.

This advancement of patriarchy is way past its sell-by date. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5543-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: tomorrow

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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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The goose is all that’s serious here…and that not for long.

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Bet you can’t make this goose smile, no matter how hard you try.

TV personality Kimmel’s first foray into picture books presents a feathered grump with a scowl that is proof against any kind of foolery: Try putting a chicken on her head, dressing her as a moose, or even trucking in a snail pizza—this goose won’t crack. Breaking now and again into verse, he challenges readers to give it a try in a foil mirror: “Cluck like a chicken / moo like a cow / be doofy, be goofy / any way you know how”—and sure enough, eventually a grin bursts out to replace the grimace despite a multipage struggle to hold it in, and off prances the goose in a pair of (gender-bending) tighty whities. Yes, she’s become “a SILLY goose (thanks to you),” the narrator proclaims, and what’s more, “YOU are a silly kid.” A hand-lettered narrative in block printing big enough to take up most of the space accompanies thick-lined cartoon views of a goosey glare that dares readers to crank up the volume, and the last page turn reveals a final tweak that may add a few grown-up voices to the younger chorus of giggles.

The goose is all that’s serious here…and that not for long. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-70775-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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