A fun-filled view of a warm, unlikely friendship.

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MONKEY & ROBOT

A really odd couple of friends shares fun and adventure.

Monkey is clueless and innocent, while Robot is endlessly kind and patient. In four stand-alone chapters, sweet, funny vignettes depict a warm, accepting friendship that transcends differences. When they watch a monster movie, Robot suggests many diversions to ease Monkey’s terror, and his gentle reassurance turns the evening into a great success. A board game also causes some worries; Monkey is convinced to play just for the fun of it. Following a misconception about the singular form of the word “dice” and some antics when a dog runs off with it, the game ends in hilarity. In the final chapters, a cocoon and a game of hide-and-seek lead to more angst for Monkey and happy outcomes thanks to Robot. Catalanotto employs brief, action-filled sentences and clear, simple dialogue that is accessible to children newly comfortable with independent reading. It is formatted in large print with lots of white space and illustrated in black and white with graphite pencil and ink, complementing the text with strong visual clues and carefully conveying the characters’ emotions. An odd, unnecessary preface states that the friends met at work and depicts them floating in air in a space capsule, which is probably unrecognizable to the intended audience.

A fun-filled view of a warm, unlikely friendship. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2978-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Richard Jackson/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2012

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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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The goose is all that’s serious here…and that not for long.

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THE SERIOUS GOOSE

Bet you can’t make this goose smile, no matter how hard you try.

TV personality Kimmel’s first foray into picture books presents a feathered grump with a scowl that is proof against any kind of foolery: Try putting a chicken on her head, dressing her as a moose, or even trucking in a snail pizza—this goose won’t crack. Breaking now and again into verse, he challenges readers to give it a try in a foil mirror: “Cluck like a chicken / moo like a cow / be doofy, be goofy / any way you know how”—and sure enough, eventually a grin bursts out to replace the grimace despite a multipage struggle to hold it in, and off prances the goose in a pair of (gender-bending) tighty whities. Yes, she’s become “a SILLY goose (thanks to you),” the narrator proclaims, and what’s more, “YOU are a silly kid.” A hand-lettered narrative in block printing big enough to take up most of the space accompanies thick-lined cartoon views of a goosey glare that dares readers to crank up the volume, and the last page turn reveals a final tweak that may add a few grown-up voices to the younger chorus of giggles.

The goose is all that’s serious here…and that not for long. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-70775-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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