Misses the mark.

READ REVIEW

THIS BOOK JUST ATE MY DOG

A carnivorous book invites readers to participate.

The book opens with an unseen little girl named Bella calling from within the book to her dog, asleep on the copyright page. Presumably, Bella passed the gutter of the book without event, but this proves confusing given what happens to her dog. As the tragically obedient dog crosses the gutter, it disappears. While Bella is aware that she’s in a book, the background illustration could easily be interpreted as the sidewalk of a nondescript street (a less confusing choice may have been a text or white-space background, à la David Wiesner’s The Three Pigs). Once her dog disappears completely, various other characters come to help but are also consumed by the book. Eventually, so is Bella, but she sends a note to readers from...beyond...requesting that readers turn the book 90 degrees and shake it. Lo and behold, all the characters fall out, and all ends well. This happy ending presents another mystery: If all those characters were “eaten” by the book, how could they simply fall out? The metafictive picture book has ceased to be a novelty and become its own, increasingly substantial genre, which poses an existential crisis of sorts for it. If metafiction becomes ho-hum ordinary, is it still doing its job?

Misses the mark. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-62779-071-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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