Nicely crafted comedy—and the Blobfish gets his wish.

BLOBFISH THROWS A PARTY

Pity poor Blobfish, a bottom-dweller who goes without light, friends, and, forsooth, delicious treats. Time for a “DEEP–SEA PARTY!”

Blobfish is aptly named: he’s got a beezer like a potato, a red-lipsticked frown, a sickly pink pallor. Blobfish has the blues. But our protagonist has pluck. He shouts out that he’s throwing a “DEEP–SEA PARTY! BRING A TREAT TO SHARE!” The sound waves make it to the mermaids, who hear “Cheap, free party! Sling on a sheet to wear.” Yes, it’s a game of Telephone, and this telephone is broken. The dancers hear: “Be really arty! Swing your feet in the air!” The kids outside hear: “Be a smarty! Fling your UNDERWEAR!” Yeah, well, OK—underwear—but that underwear just happens to foil the attack by candy-seeking extraterrestrials in a flying saucer. Then everyone retraces the Telephone call until they find Blobfish, still down in the friendless, treatless dark…but nevermore. Caton keeps the spirited artwork in concatenation with the crazy pleasure of Paul’s chain of transformations. The participants are an entirely natural mix of black, brown, white, boy, girl, and lots of animals of indeterminate gender and ethnicity but great variety. The whole package feels nicely wrapped, the wrapping doesn’t try to get fancy, and the package isn’t too big or small. Pleasingly proportional.

Nicely crafted comedy—and the Blobfish gets his wish. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0422-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bee

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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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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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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