Art and text take a literal definition and do a great job of running—er, creeping—with it.

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SNAIL MAIL

The Snail Mail Promise: “Neither rain, nor snow, nor heat, nor hail will stop a snail from bringing the mail.”

After asserting that before “e-mail and sending, clicking and texting,” letters were sent by Snail Mail, the text introduces four snail mail carriers: Dale Snail, Gail Snail, Col. McHale Snail, and Umbérto. The tongue-in-cheek text goes on to say that people agreed that certain types of mail were made more special by Snail Mail. When a girl in Santa Monica who loves a boy in New York makes him a card, the snails are determined to deliver the letter. They creep into position under the letter and begin their slow, arduous journey. The art shows irresistible snails with eyeballs on stalks protruding above their clothed soft parts, shells exposed to the weather. There is a nod to cinematic conventions as the snail trail, represented by dashes in red ink, winds from the deserts of the West through the country’s heartland and into urban New York. Engaging watercolors offer varied landscapes and postcardlike views of famous landmarks. Another scene shows the snails briefly hitching a ride with sparrows. Both children have sweet, brownish faces. The absurdity of the premise—and repeated promise—is humorously upheld throughout.

Art and text take a literal definition and do a great job of running—er, creeping—with it. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6251-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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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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