Less a romp than a stroll—enjoyable but a little sedate.




A gallery of shark shapes and sizes, attitudes and appetites.

Bright (and forgivably inaccurate) colors saturate otherwise-simple spreads that catalog some of the many species of sharks that live in our planet’s oceans. Lilting text introduces different sharks in opposing and oversimplified terms: “Some sharks are bottom dwellers… / but other sharks are surface breakers” (referencing the goblin shark and the great white, respectively). Very general differences in ferocity (whale shark and bull shark), pickiness (basking shark and tiger shark), social habits (lemon shark and cookiecutter shark), and climate preferences (Greenland shark and hammerhead shark) frame each new pair of sharks, with each presented on its own spread—visually striking but counterproductive to the text’s attempt at continuity. More-specific facts and explanations are omitted, hopefully prompting curiosity that will send readers to their libraries or, if they’re lucky, their local aquarium, where Paul somewhat flimsily reminds them sharks can be visited up close. Unfortunately, and despite colorful and inviting illustrations, these same omissions also make this a book unlikely to be called on more than once or twice. Those with “Baby Shark” fans to satisfy should try pairing this with Shawn Loves Sharks, by Curtis Manley and illustrated by Tracy Subisak (2017), or Misunderstood Shark, by Amy Dyckman and illustrated by Scott Magoon (2018), to up both the entertainment and information values.

Less a romp than a stroll—enjoyable but a little sedate. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6702-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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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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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.


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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