WHERE'S WALRUS?

It's another slow day at the zoo—not. The keeper has nodded off, and all are asleep—all, that is, except Walrus. The seemingly content creature carefully assesses the situation from his small, raised pool. In one quick flip, he’s off scurrying toward…freedom? A flowing fountain ahead, a shocked zookeeper behind, and loads of fun awaits! So begins the visual hijinks. Walrus, always one step ahead of his mustachioed caretaker, manages to build structures, fight fires and dance the cancan, all before winning an attention-grabbing platform-diving competition. His crowd-pleasing performance leaves the zookeeper thoughtful. Thus, Walrus returns to a refurbished home—complete with diving pool—and to new audiences attracted to the zoo. Minimal linework and simple blocks of color done in a cool, playful palette contribute to a ’50s, modern aesthetic. Savage thoughtfully applies his graphic approach to Walrus’ industrious exuberance, surrounding him with postwar-boom references. In his world, people are active; they’re building and creating, and there’s possibility in the air and opportunity for play. The expressive characters also brim with personality and charm. Intelligently illustrated, the book leaves readers to wonder if Walrus’ adventures were all mischievous spontaneity, or did he wittingly go astray? Refreshing, captivating, elegant and witty. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-439-70049-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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Hee haw.

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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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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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