Cute to occasionally cutesy—but not condescending.

READ REVIEW

CUDDLY CRITTERS FOR LITTLE GENIUSES

From the Big Words for Little Geniuses series

Tired of horsies, duckies, and kitties? Meet the roseate spoonbill, the Irrawaddy dolphin, the gerenuk, and 45 like specimens of exotic wildlife.

Continuing the vocabulary-building they began in Big Words for Little Geniuses (2017), the Pattersons focus here on creatures with names that beg to be sounded out and relished—from the “silly-looking aye-aye” to the “adorable” dumbo octopus, axolotl, and jerboa. The animals are grouped into the rough categories “Flyers,” “Swimmers,” and “Crawlers,” and each is glossed with a few brief, crowd-pleasing facts or comments. The toucan “sounds like a cross between a pig and a frog!” The chinchilla “might pee on you if it gets scared. It also likes to eat its own poop.” Pan supplies stylized portraits in illustrations that are all bright colors and blobby shapes, as cheery as Matisse paper collages. The beginning and ending are abrupt, the stylization sometimes goes a bit too far (even veteran naturalists will have trouble puzzling out the Sunda colugo), and some selections, such as the angel shark and the blue poison dart frog, don’t seem especially “cuddly.” Still this parade will give the next generation of Jane Goodalls and Roger Tory Petersons a leg up on some of the wild kingdom’s more colorful (and sonorously named) residents.

Cute to occasionally cutesy—but not condescending. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-48628-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 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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The goose is all that’s serious here…and that not for long.

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THE SERIOUS GOOSE

Bet you can’t make this goose smile, no matter how hard you try.

TV personality Kimmel’s first foray into picture books presents a feathered grump with a scowl that is proof against any kind of foolery: Try putting a chicken on her head, dressing her as a moose, or even trucking in a snail pizza—this goose won’t crack. Breaking now and again into verse, he challenges readers to give it a try in a foil mirror: “Cluck like a chicken / moo like a cow / be doofy, be goofy / any way you know how”—and sure enough, eventually a grin bursts out to replace the grimace despite a multipage struggle to hold it in, and off prances the goose in a pair of (gender-bending) tighty whities. Yes, she’s become “a SILLY goose (thanks to you),” the narrator proclaims, and what’s more, “YOU are a silly kid.” A hand-lettered narrative in block printing big enough to take up most of the space accompanies thick-lined cartoon views of a goosey glare that dares readers to crank up the volume, and the last page turn reveals a final tweak that may add a few grown-up voices to the younger chorus of giggles.

The goose is all that’s serious here…and that not for long. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-70775-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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