Perhaps future outings of the Shenandoah will prove more seaworthy.




It’s Black Dog and the crew of the schooner Shenandoah to the rescue!

In the harbor at Vineyard Haven there is adventure afoot. “It always starts in the same way / and ends when Black Dog saves the day.” A bottle washes against the dock, and Captain reads the note inside. Whale is in trouble! “Bark! Bark! Bark! ‘Let’s go and help!’ / Her message spreads from fish to kelp.” Kids Tess and Jack join Captain and Black Dog, and they sail off to help the whale. They pour seawater on the cetacean to keep him cool before pulling him back out to sea. Whale thanks them, and “With a last tail wave and a great big SPLISH, / Whale dives down to greet some fish.” Black Dog and the crew return home satisfied. “Black Dog, Captain and the schooner’s crew / Will go on other journeys too.” Employing doggerel that doesn’t always scan or even make total sense, teen author Schmidt (Hold Me Like a Breath, 2015, etc.) makes an inauspicious picture-book debut with this first of a projected series of adventures for Black Dog and company. Theophilopoulos’ animation-inspired illustrations are barely serviceable, not nearly accomplished enough to make up for the tortured rhyming text.

Perhaps future outings of the Shenandoah will prove more seaworthy. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9960666-1-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Adaptive Studios

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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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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