A lovely posthumous gift that will undoubtedly draw readers into the prolific author’s body of work.

READ REVIEW

WHO WILL BELL THE CAT?

The mice in the barn have a cat problem and must rely on their own wits to solve it.

After taking pity on a poor starving tabby cat named Marmalade, the barn mice learn that no good deed goes unpunished when she becomes a tyrant, terrorizing the very creatures who nursed her back to health. When life becomes intolerable, the mice craft a collar with a bell to warn them of Marmalade’s approach, but who will take on the perilous duty of belling the cat? In this book, published posthumously, the beloved, multiaward-winning McKissack leaves readers one more insightful tale that teaches the value of self-reliance and gently cautions against believing preconceived notions. Reminiscent of Margery Sharpe’s The Rescuers, the classed society of mice enlists aid from the dreaded rats and even a barn bird before they are forced to rely on a most unexpected ally. Cyr, in his debut picture book, creates an atmospheric and precarious landscape through brilliant use of shadow and color. Marmalade’s eyes, a lugubrious shade of yellow, convey the full extent of her villainy, while the scale of the mice in the shadowy barn reinforces the danger that they are in. A black nuclear family is seamlessly integrated in the conclusion.

A lovely posthumous gift that will undoubtedly draw readers into the prolific author’s body of work. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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