WOMBAT GOES WALKABOUT

Beautiful book design and illustrations drenched in the red-gold light of Australia enhance the warm-hearted story of Wombat. One day Wombat digs a hole and sits in it, thinking—so long that when he comes out, he can’t find his mother. He meets Kookaburra, Wallaby, Emu, and even Boy in his search. Each asks him who he is and what he does, and he responds, “I’m Wombat. I dig a lot and I think a lot.” No one is very impressed with this: the boy brags that he can jump, run, even hunt; Possum can hang upside down; Emu can run around in circles. But none of them has seen Wombat’s mother, so he climbs as high as he can, looking for her. He doesn’t find her, but he does see fire coming, and warns the others. They all hide in the hole Wombat dug deep and dark, and are safe until the fire passes, and then all help Wombat find his mother. The deep rhythms and call and response of this story fit a comfortable pattern: Birmingham (The Windhover, 1997) burnishes that with wonderfully detailed full-page images facing the text pages. Energetic grisaille sketches of whatever animal Wombat is talking to usually surround the text. He’s an incredibly cute little fellow himself. Besides its undeniable kid appeal, the wombat is the mascot of at least two online library discussion groups—they are going to love it. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7636-1168-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2000

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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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THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE

Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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