A promising launch.



The moral of this tongue-in-cheek instruction book is, Don’t Startle the Elephant.

If, in the course of your explorations, an elephant stands on your foot, "keep calm," lest you rouse the tiger, and then the rhino, snakes and crocodiles, requiring a rescue by monkeys. Our intrepid explorer (outfitted with safari vest, adventurer’s hat and binoculars) has one misadventure after another in this effective collaboration between words and pictures. Sharp-eyed readers will see the problems coming even before the reveal of the page turn. The narrator, whose helpful advice appears in the white above the cartoon-like illustrations, is not above saying “[t]old you so” and “don't say I didn’t warn you.” While adults may want to remind the creators there are no tigers on the African savanna, the apparent setting for this romp—why not a leopard or a lion?—children will happily go along with the story’s silliness. Reynolds’ traveler bears a strong resemblance to his rendition of Judy Moody. His Horton-like elephant is particularly appealing, his tiger and alligators especially toothy, and the monkeys downright manic. The humor of these watercolor drawings fits the exaggeration of the storyline nicely. When the ending suggests that the story is starting over, listeners will be happy to hear it again. This is Robinson’s first published picture book, but others are in the pipeline.

A promising launch. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3398-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2012

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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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