A small boy's imaginative play tames his father’s fears.

Dutch author Veldkamp (Little Monkey's Big Peeing Circus, 2006) revisits the circus theme to gentler effect. Tom, desperate for his father’s attention, builds first a snail trapeze and then a squirrel circus, but his father’s fear of animals keeps him indoors. Tom needs a new show, so he heads to "Paws, Claws, Beaks & Bugs," where he announces himself as Tom the Tamer and asks if there are any animals that still need to be tamed. Hamster? Small dog? "I was thinking of a polar bear," says Tom. His knack as a tamer soon has an affable bear lending its furry self to Tom's circus, disguised in its off time as a piece of furniture. The new comfy chair by the fire is joined by flamingo drapes, an octopus chandelier and a three-hippo sofa, all wearing hiding-in-plain-sight looks of nonchalance. In on the game, and in a nod to Tenniel, is a white rabbit. The show is about to begin. But will it work? The father, finally the strong man that Tom needs, throws caution to the wind as he finds joy in an exuberant circus pyramid. Hopman’s luminous double-page spreads of soft watercolor and loose pen-and-ink lines lend humor to this multilayered story. Children will pick up subtle clues in the illustrations to the source of the father's emotional distance and the healing power of play.

Sublime . (Picture Book. 4–7)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-9359-5405-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lemniscaat USA

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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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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