A holiday tie-in that fails to deliver.



From the I Am Otter series

Garton continues his popular series about roly-poly Otter (I Am Otter, 2014, etc.) with this simple story about the joys of eating Easter candy and sharing (or not) with others.

Otter (established as a female in previous stories) lives a childlike life with her white, adult owner, Otter Keeper, shown only in partial glimpses of legs or an arm. The other characters are Otter’s beloved, inanimate toys: a pig, a giraffe, and a limp teddy bear with X’s for eyes. On Easter morning, Otter gobbles up all the candy before breakfast even though she is told to share with her stuffed-animal friends. Feeling guilty, she transforms herself into the Easter Otter and prepares an elaborate Easter egg hunt. Candy-bright colors against white backgrounds capture Otter’s antics and expressions, leading up to a detailed, double-page spread of Otter’s backyard. The stuffed animals seem especially lifeless in this scene, lying flat on the ground until Otter drags them around to find the hidden eggs. In an unsatisfying conclusion, Otter states that the stuffed animals decided to “share” their eggs with her, and all the eggs are shown in a box labeled “Otter’s Eggs.” While this may be intended as wry humor, Otter’s selfish attitude and self-satisfied declaration that she’s “saved Easter” give this story a sour flavor rather than the lighthearted, humorous sweetness that made previous Otter stories successful.

A holiday tie-in that fails to deliver. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-236667-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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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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