DODSWORTH IN ROME

Egan’s understated, hilarious travelogue continues as Dodsworth and his duck pal explore Rome, Italy. The duck—still wearing an acorn beret from Paris (Dodsworth in Paris, 2008)—is the motor for most of the laughs. Standing beside colossal columns in St. Peter’s Square, he comments dryly, “I feel smaller than usual.” Inside the Sistine Chapel, he notes placidly, “That’s weird…. There isn’t one duck in the entire painting.” Moments later, he’s on the ceiling with white paint, remedying that omission. Ink-and-watercolor illustrations employ tiny smiles and minimalist expressions to underscore the humor. In a pizza-throwing contest (“You’re good at throwing food,” comments Dodsworth, and indeed, the duck throws things in every city), the duck sneaks Dodsworth’s suitcase behind a table to stand on, never telling Dodsworth. A chaotic search for the suitcase yields nothing, and without the cash inside it, Dodsworth can’t afford a hotel. They doze overnight on the Spanish Steps. Next day, they dine heartily on found money—until honest Dodsworth discovers that the duck “found” the coins in the Trevi Fountain. Is the duck a descendent of Amelia Bedelia, innocently believing that a flea market contains fleas and that “Rome” means to roam around? Or is he slyly “mak[ing] the trip a little more exciting?” Deadpan delivery means there’s no way to tell, and that’s the brilliance of the duck. May the journey continue. (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-39006-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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 lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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