A hushed, lyrical glimpse into the world of dreamers.

READ REVIEW

WHEN THE WORLD IS DREAMING

The dreams of woodland creatures—and one Little Dreamer’s—take the spotlight in this whimsical exploration of nighttime fantasies.

“What does the Little Snake dream / at the end of the day? / After the wriggling, / the sunning, the play.” An unnamed narrator poses the question as a black-haired, light-brown–skinned girl observes a snake slithering through grass. An answer follows in the next spread: the text shifts into the first person (and the type into one that emulates hand printing) as the snake fantasizes about sailing the skies as a kite’s tail. A pattern soon forms. Using a gentle rhyming scheme, Gray introduces readers to Little Deer, Little Newt, and other creatures in their natural environments before plumbing the depths of their dreams. Delight comes in the shape of the unexpected. For example, Little Turtle’s dream of a Sky Turtle “playing hide-and-seek” stuns in its quiet simplicity. Pak’s watercolor pictures capture the wistful tone during moments like these. Hazy, smeared colors and loose lines reflect the relaxed pace of the story, mitigating the danger-filled undercurrent that occasionally pops up. (The illustration for Little Mouse’s dream of leaving “that cat behind on shore” obscures a strange tension in retrospect.) After each creature shares its dream, the girl must share hers. “What does Little Dreamer dream / at the end of the day?” That question may apply to readers as well.

A hushed, lyrical glimpse into the world of dreamers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-58262-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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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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