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GORDON AND TAPIR

Dispiriting.

Gordon and Tapir discover that friendship isn’t enough to find common ground.

Meschenmoser’s pals are about as odd a couple as an herbivore from the tropics and a pescavore from Antarctica can be. Tapir is the kind of guy who leaves the toilet paper roll empty because it is more fun to wear the paper as a turban than to have it handy for other purposes. Gordon, who is a penguin (as opposed to Tapir, who is a tapir), is of the opposite school: a place for everything and everything in its place. Though Gordon may look sharp, he grouses a lot. The floor is sticky with fruit. The sink is full of dishes. And when is that visiting hippo going to vacate the tub? Tapir is far from oblivious, however. What about that stinky fish garbage? What about the exclusivity of Gordon’s colony of friends? Gordon has an answer. He will move out to a spacious, minimalist loft, and Tapir can have the jungle of mess all to himself. That’s cool with Tapir. They can keep in touch by phone, pay each other visits. Is this the best friends can do at finding a solution? That affection can abide only at a distance? Though the final, wordless images hint that may not be true, it will take some work on readers’ parts to arrive at that inference. Lovely artwork—colored-pencil delicate—artless theme.

Dispiriting. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4253-3

Page Count: 60

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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