Text and art play well together here—just as well as Girl and Gorilla do.



Resourceful Girl and exuberant Gorilla navigate their way through a venturesome day.

Gorilla would like to play on the moon, but Girl suggests the park. They set off on her red two-wheeler, Gorilla’s bum wedged outlandishly in its basket. Quickly off-balance (go figure), they crash into a trash can, scuttling the bike ride. Bereft, Gorilla asks, “How can we get to the park? How can we play?” Girl begins, “We can—” only to be interrupted by helpful Gorilla, who’s always ready with an imaginative (if impractical) idea. “We can hopscotch to the park!” So it goes, as they (following Girl’s excellent suggestion) “walk and think and think and walk.” Like the extra-large toddler that he is, Gorilla’s wild suggestions are prompted by what he sees and imagines as they go. Spying a kite snagged in a tree, he says, “ ‘We can be kites and fly to the park!’ / ‘We don’t have any string,’ says Girl. / ‘We could use my tail!’ says Gorilla. / ‘You don’t have a tail,’ says Girl.” Walton’s dialogue-rich treatment, with its repetitive structure and simple words, promises double duty as both practice for emergent readers and giggle-inducing read-aloud. Berger’s digital compositions render a retro-hip cityscape; Girl’s bemusement and Gorilla’s roller-coaster emotions come across as both cartoonish and sweetly expressive.

Text and art play well together here—just as well as Girl and Gorilla do. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-227891-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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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 buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.


A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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