A rousing, toothy adventure.



A young girl must figure out a way to help a sharp-toothed and fearsome creature many times her size.

Crocodiles come from all over the jungle to see the child they call Little Doctor, who attends to a variety of ailments: splinters, sprains, and self-esteem issues. In return for her ministrations they regale the girl with stories of adventure and fearless beasts. Then an enormous crocodile known as Big Mean appears at the girl’s door, and it takes some patience and an accidental trip inside Big Mean’s jaws to diagnose the problem. Little Doctor frees four hatchlings (carried gently inside Big Mean’s mouth) tangled and trapped by a plastic beverage yoke. Gilmore’s crocodiles, both large and small, are reptilian and sly, even dangerous-looking, accentuating the child’s devotion to these far-from-cuddly creatures. The girl is light-skinned, slim, determined, and serious. Her house in the jungle is filled with crocodile-themed art, including diagrams of the crocodilian life cycle and anatomy, and tools of the doctor’s trade—clipboards, a reflex hammer. The art is angular and detailed, with fine lines and subtle colors. The use of the word “fearless” instead of “fearsome” to describe the crocodiles emphasizes the courage it takes both humans and wild creatures to trust. Big Mean repays with a tale of “great daring and determination”—a story about the Little Doctor herself.

A rousing, toothy adventure. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77147-344-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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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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