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

VOTE FOR ME!

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: March 1, 2020

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Hee haw.

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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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