A dreamy visual narrative to brighten winter evenings.

READ REVIEW

ONCE UPON A SNOWSTORM

After a father and son become separated while hunting in a snowstorm, forest animals aid the boy.

The lost lad sleeps in a sheltering cave below animal constellations, his red-and-white polka-dot scarf his pillow. Waking in a shaft of light, he’s regarded by an interspecies crowd that includes a bear, an owl, a badger, a deer, foxes, rabbits, and more. Panel close-ups amusingly register their mutual surprise. The bear and boy strike a bond: The boy shares a candy, and they drink from a waterfall. In scenes recalling Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman, dining and dancing ensue. Boy and bear add to cave paintings that themselves evoke those at Lascaux. When the child’s father-son depiction evinces longing, the boy gets a predawn ride on the bear’s back, to a reunion with his searching father. Sequential illustrations show the boy facilitating gratitude rather than violence toward the bear. As other animals emerge from the forest, a raccoon carrying the boy’s left-behind scarf, early yellow flowers bloom along the home’s fence. Johnson’s wordless pictures capably narrate, foretell, and embellish the story. The blizzard’s feathery flakes include silhouettes of the animals encountered later. The cozy home’s family photos show an absent woman, her red-and-white top echoed in the boy’s scarf, socks, a chair pillow, and the final spread’s springtime butterfly. Mother, father, and child all present white.

A dreamy visual narrative to brighten winter evenings. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-571-33928-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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