LOVEYKINS

Engaging with eccentricity is rarely a smooth road, which is why a pairing of quirky and endearing often rings hollow. But in the hands of a master like Blake, this relationship between an unconventional woman and a young bird, unmediated by any softening agents, feels real and good and weird. Angela Bowling discovers a gawky little bird blown from its nest in the great woods. She decides to raise the creature, bestowing the name of Augustus upon it, bringing him home with her, swaddling him in sweaters and scarves, spooning milk into his beak, and, when he is old enough, serving forth creamed carrots, éclairs, and whole boxes of chocolates. Augustus bulges in his wrappings. The two go abroad in the world, Augustus in a fancy new stroller, instinctively eyeing the occasional bug crossing his path, greeting curious characters in the neighborhood. There comes a point when Augustus becomes too big to stay in the basket Angela has made his home, so she stows him in the garden shed. “Once again there came a night of dreadful weather, and big winds blew through the great woods.” The wind blew down Augustus’s shed, too; freed of his wraps, Augustus spreads his big wings and flies the coop. He marvels in his freedom, learns to savor the remains of a dead squirrel, returns now and then to bring Angela “a dead mouse, perhaps, or a few beetles.” Cross-species gestures of love, delightfully queer, dissonant then assonant. Add Blake’s idiosyncratic watercolors, which inspire affection and sympathy, and you have the rare eccentric/endearment nexus that emits its own strange, wonderful light. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 1-56145-282-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 12

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed.

YOU DON'T WANT A DRAGON!

If you thought having a unicorn as a pet was hard, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tried owning a dragon.

The young protagonist of You Don’t Want a Unicorn! (2017) is back, and they clearly haven’t learned their lesson. Now they’ve wished for a pet dragon. As the intrusive narrator is quick to point out, everything about it seems fun at the beginning. However, it’s not long before the doglike dragon starts chasing squirrels, drooling, pooping (ever wondered where charcoal comes from?), scooting its butt across the floor (leaving fire and flames behind), and more. By now, the dragon has grown too huge to keep, so the child (who appears white and also to live alone) wishes it away and settles for a cute little hamster instead. A perfect pet…until it finds a stray magical cupcake. Simple cartoon art and a surfeit of jokes about defecation suggest this book will find an appreciative audience. The dragon/dog equivalences are cute on an initial read, but they may not be strong enough to convince anyone to return. Moreover, a surprising amount of the plot hinges on having read the previous book in this series (it’s the only way readers will know that cupcakes are unicorn poop).

Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53580-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more