This bland addition to the “unusual pets” genre misses most of the comedic possibilities and ends up a long way from...



An all-too-successful cereal promotion leads to surprises, some of them unpleasant, for two lads who send in coupons for a free lion.

As the British import starts out on a cautionary path, makes an abrupt turnabout, and then ends with what could be construed (on this side of the pond, anyway) as trademark infringement, it’s all rather a muddle. After urging readers to ignore cereal coupons, a young narrator describes how he and his brother spent a year’s allowance on 100 boxes of Mr. Flaky cornflakes only to see all their neighbors getting their lions first. Worse yet, they finally receive (because the company had run out of lions) a bad-tempered grizzly bear, a cranky crocodile, and finally a destructive gorilla. But then said animals are suddenly, inexplicably transformed from annoyances to assets (the croc, for instance, obligingly bites open cans). Furthermore, lions aren’t worth the trouble—“EVERYONE’S got one”— but check out the new prize offering: a genial, anthropomorphic tiger! Field’s lackadaisical scenes of tidy suburban chaos, swarms of mostly well-behaved (male) lions, and human figures with exaggerated expressions of dismay or irritation do little to boost the comedy or clarify the message, if any.

This bland addition to the “unusual pets” genre misses most of the comedic possibilities and ends up a long way from “grrrrreat.” (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8027-3836-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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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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