Friends separated by a move may be soothed by the (albeit old-fashioned) idea that they can stay in touch via letters, and...

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A LETTER FOR LEO

A letter carrier who never gets mail himself must experience the ache of a friend’s moving away before he can have this singular joy.

Leo delivers the mail in his small town. The weasel happily delivers packages and letters of all sorts, and he even sometimes stops to rest and chat or play bocce with his friends. But at the end of the day, he is disappointed with his own empty mailbox, “ ‘Maybe tomorrow,’ he sighs.” But one day, the mailbox emits some peculiar noises, and Leo discovers Cheep. Leo cares for the tiny bird as autumn turns to winter, their friendship deepening as they share all sorts of adventures. But when spring comes and the birds fly north again, Leo knows it’s time to say goodbye. A sorrowful, wordless spread in the colors of the sunset expresses all that Leo and Cheep are feeling. All is as it was before for Leo save for one thing: a letter from Cheep. Retro colors and sparse backgrounds in the tiled-roof town give Ruzzier’s illustrations an Old World feel that is echoed in the animal characters, some of whom seem to be right out of old cartoons’ central casting.

Friends separated by a move may be soothed by the (albeit old-fashioned) idea that they can stay in touch via letters, and the final view of Leo and Cheep reunited gives hope for visits. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-22360-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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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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