A silly romp that does some subtly hard lifting.

READ REVIEW

KEITH THE CAT WITH THE MAGIC HAT

Ice cream cone…or magic hat?

One day Keith the cat is happily walking through the meadow when “Plop!”—a triple-scoop ice cream cone lands on his head (ice cream–side down). The other cats mock him…until he denies that it’s an ice cream cone. He says it’s a magic hat. Of course, now the others call on him to do some magic. As Keith reaches for the “chocolatey magic wand” that fell off his hat, it appears to move on its own (readers will note the line of tiny ants that are trying to make off with it). Keith sees the ants but the others don’t; now they want more magic, and Keith likes the attention. Keith (coincidentally) summons a family of rabbits that pops out of the ground, amazing the other cats. When a dog menaces the group, though, Keith can’t make it disappear, so they all race up a tree. When his ice cream hat slips off Keith’s head and lands on the dog, something unexpected happens. Prolific British author/illustrator Hendra’s 2012 tale of feline foolishness here makes its American debut. The boldly colored, digitally created illustrations are full of wide-eyed cats of different shades. With its brief text and clear visual cues, it’s a good introduction for younger preschoolers to the synergy of text and artwork.

A silly romp that does some subtly hard lifting. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-9035-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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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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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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