Fun for kids who know the cathedral (and for patrons of its gift shop); skippable for everybody else




Three peacocks who live at New York’s Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine try to expand their diets.

Tired of sunflower seeds (oddly, depicted as bullet-shaped heaps of golden granules), Phil, Jim, and Harry venture into the neighborhood for some variety only to be turned away everywhere with the titular exclamation. Tempted by “a whiff of something yummy,” they follow their noses to a nearby school, where children are enjoying “ooey, gooey, creamy and delicious mac ’n cheese.” Fascinated to the point of obsession, Phil, Jim, and Harry try daily to sneak into the school. Finally, a kid with “a connection” supplies them with the coveted foodstuff—and, anticlimactically, they don’t like it. Based on three actual peacocks at the cathedral who roam the neighborhood and eat anything, the plot stretches out its build past the breaking point, so the final punchline lands only glancingly. Ewald’s slick, animation-inspired digital illustrations have a glossy, off-putting look that fails to supply the visual verve the story needs. They depict a multicultural neighborhood and school population. The peacocks themselves (two blue, one white) look a lot more like Foghorn Leghorn with paddle-shaped tails than the striking ornamental fowl, which is underscored by the photographs that accompany an author’s note.

Fun for kids who know the cathedral (and for patrons of its gift shop); skippable for everybody else . (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5107-1480-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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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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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.


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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