While there are plenty of picture books that feature unlikely friendships, young listeners will be pleased to make the...

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MOUSE AND HIPPO

Two anthropomorphic animals meet unexpectedly and quickly become friends despite their differences.

Mouse is placidly painting atop a rock when suddenly it shakes, and Mouse is thrown into the lake. Struggling and sputtering, Mouse is rescued by Hippo, the “rock.” Grateful for the help and flattered by Hippo’s praise, Mouse decides to paint a picture of Hippo. Hippo, inspired, returns the favor. Their enthusiasm for each other’s extremely original, if unconventional, artistic efforts cements their friendship. The straightforward plot is conveyed entirely in dialogue with individualized typefaces and colors used to distinguish the speakers. This variation serves to emphasize the characters’ physical differences (brown-furred Mouse’s is spindly and brown; gray Hippo’s is gray and chunky) as well as making it easy to follow the action. Although the story moves along briskly, Twohy effectively creates distinct—and distinctly charming—personalities for his characters through their speech. He also showcases their creativity and problem-solving without being in the least didactic. His crisp, cartoon-style illustrations complement and extend the humorous text. Bright colors, black outlines, and plenty of white space keep the focus squarely on his two protagonists.

While there are plenty of picture books that feature unlikely friendships, young listeners will be pleased to make the acquaintance of these two cheerful creatures and, quite possibly, inspired to view the world in engaging new ways. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5124-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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

THE DINKY DONKEY

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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