A bland rendition, without much sense of the popular story’s usual course or cultural milieu.


From the Ganesha series , Vol. 3

In this reworked folk tale, clever Ganesha disguises himself as a shepherd boy to keep an evil king from becoming even more dangerously powerful.

Related in lumbering rhyme and blocky cartoon illustrations, the episode is not only abbreviated, but robbed of features that might have increased its appeal to young readers. Described as a ferocious, many-headed demon king in the Ramayana (for instance) but depicted here as a hunky but conventional, pale-skinned villain with a Snidely Whiplash mustache, Ravana sets out to secure a stone promised by Shiva that will give its bearer immortality and great power. Shiva reluctantly hands it over, with the proviso that once it touches the ground it will be forever immovable. Commenting “I know, he has his evil plans / to take over the world, / and capture all lands,” the elephant-headed Ganesha transforms himself into a lad and volunteers to hold the stone for a count of three while Ravana rests and prays (or in other versions, pees). As if. Down the stone drops, “…and Ravana’s dreams of fame and glory, / are gone forever. That’s the end of this story.” In traditional versions the end isn’t quite so abrupt, and the “stone” is actually a lingam or sacred phallus that is here only a glowing, egg-shaped crystal—though at least it does assume an elongated shape in the final scene. A small sheet of stickers and step-by-step instructions for drawing the portly blue pachyderm are appended.

A bland rendition, without much sense of the popular story’s usual course or cultural milieu. (Graphic folk tale. 5-8.)

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-93-81182-24-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.


Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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