OLD BEAR AND HIS CUB

“Old Bear loved his Little Cub with all his heart. Little Cub loved Old Bear with all his heart.” But each time Old Bear tells Little Cub to do something, his refusal becomes a verbal tug-of-war over who knows best. “Tie your scarf tight around your neck. You might catch cold.” “No, I won’t.” “Yes, you will.” “No, I won’t!” Little Cub refuses to eat his porridge, be careful at the top of a rock or take a nap. They both fall asleep in a snowy meadow (despite Little Cub's objections), and when Old Bear wakes up, he has a cold. Now Little Cub becomes the admonisher in this lovingly depicted role reversal. The just-right spare text and pencil-and-gouache illustrations are set against spacious white backgrounds that focus readers’ attention on subtle expressions (and not-so-subtle ones, such as the amusing glare-off between grizzled, nap-refusing Old Bear and fierce Little Cub) and colorful touches, like Little Cub’s red scarf. The adult-child give-and-take in this charming bedtime story will be quite familiar and is bound to bring smiles to both ages. Simplicity at its best. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-399-24507-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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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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