Ignorance equals bliss in this amusing, cleverly executed tale.




A clueless fish owes her escape from a fisherman and a great blue heron to sheer dumb luck in this “fishy tale.”

A little round fish in a kerchief, Miss Doreen Randolph-Potts wends her way upstream to visit her cousin when she spies a dragonfly “darting, / dancing deliciously above her.” Thinking she’s found a “lovely snack,” Doreen unknowingly swallows the fisherman’s lure as he rapidly reels her in and tosses her into his bucket. Gleefully assuming she’s on an “outing,” Doreen’s equally oblivious when the heron snaps her up and flies off. Thanking the heron for escorting her on her journey, Doreen asks if he’s an egret, prompting him to open his beak to correct her. Suddenly “plunging and plummeting” through the air, unflappable Doreen’s thrilled to be “FLYING” and eventually falls back into the stream and swims on, unaware of her close calls. Laced with panicky warnings from the narrator alerting Doreen to her impending mortal danger, the alliterative text tracks her perilous journey in humorous detail while its typographic placement visually follows her up, down and across double-page spreads. Rendered in pencil, watercolor, gouache and colored pencil, the fluid illustrations effectively rely on light and arresting perspectives to highlight Doreen’s precarious situations.

Ignorance equals bliss in this amusing, cleverly executed tale. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-375-86918-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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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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