For Tillman, predictability and preciosity have been profitable, and this is likely to be another best-seller to add to her...

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THE HEAVEN OF ANIMALS

Fans of Tillman’s sentimental rhyming couplets, pretty pictures and relentlessly positive worldview will welcome this vision of a happy heaven populated by pampered pets, ethereal angels and friendly animals of all sorts.

This heaven is a decidedly pastoral place, from the fog-shrouded lake on one of the opening double-page spreads to a field of sunflowers and a grassy meadow. A sandy beach, deep blue lake and wildly colored savannah are among the other settings, all of which serve to add variety and visual interest. Angels, mostly children and overwhelmingly white, are sprinkled about, playing with dogs, petting kittens and patting horses as well as running, dancing and paddling a bright blue canoe. The digitally created artwork verges on photorealism in some instances, while other vignettes have a gauzy look. The text is straightforward, with a strong rhythm from the opening couplet to the final reassurance: “But when you meet your friends again, / they’ll see you as they saw you then. / And you’ll find they always knew / how much they were loved… / and how much they loved you.” Accompanied by the depiction of a joyous reunion between a boy and his dog, the final two pages may well be the most affecting part of the whole.

For Tillman, predictability and preciosity have been profitable, and this is likely to be another best-seller to add to her list. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-312-55369-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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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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