Creative concept and wordplay with playful illustration you can enjoy with your thumbs.

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WHAT IF MY DOG HAD THUMBS?

The titular question is explored in rhyming verse.

Visually, this book screams for attention with its illustrations in intense neon colors and striking contrasts (think dandelion yellow and magenta highlighted with cherry red or royal blue, magenta, and dandelion yellow accented with gold). Dog fans will love the main character—a shaggy canine that oozes personality and thrives on an adventure-filled, if imaginary, life. Word lovers will jump into the fun and ponder the question: “Would she walk around town shaking hands with all of her chums?” A spotted dog’s paw and the protagonist’s clasp across the gutter. “Would she go to the store, just to explore / what she could wear on the dance floor?” She boogies in blue jeans beneath a disco ball. The possibilities are endless, and each one is just a bit more complicated and unlikely than the one before. The rhyme isn’t always perfect, but the wordplay, always fun and sometimes philosophical, just asks to be read aloud. “Would she pick apples and make a pie? / Would she close her eyes and try to touch the sky?” The unstudied, playful aesthetic encourages readers to embrace the looniness and have fun creating their own imaginative rhymes. No possibility is too silly.

Creative concept and wordplay with playful illustration you can enjoy with your thumbs. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-948340-09-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dottir Press

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Hee haw.

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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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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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