Gorgeous illustrations and an evocative time period support a somewhat staid story.



From the Little Elliot series

The third book featuring Little Elliot, a polka-dot elephant, and Mouse brings them to Coney Island.

Little Elliot and Mouse take the train to Coney Island, where Mouse assures Elliot that he will have a great time. Visual details such as the fashions on the racially diverse crowds—most especially the black enlisted sailor’s dress whites—point to a time period of late 1930s to early 1940s, a feeling that is enhanced by Curato’s lush illustrations in a color palette that recalls the postcards of that era. Having arrived at Coney Island, Elliot is, alas, not having a good time. He is frightened by the rides, a sea gull steals his ice cream, and the clown scares him. When Mouse suggests the Ferris wheel, Elliot climbs on with trepidation. But when, in a dramatic horizontal double-gatefold spread, he sees the whole wonderful panorama of the park, he begins to enjoy himself. At dusk, Elliot asks Mouse what his favorite part of the day was, and Mouse replies, “being with you,” a sentiment echoed by Elliot. The story ends on this tidy, rather bland note, but adults reading aloud may privately muse about the poignancy of a story of friendship perched on the edge of World War II, and this adds a pleasing nuance.

Gorgeous illustrations and an evocative time period support a somewhat staid story. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9827-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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