Skip it.

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ALPACA PATI'S FANCY FLEECE

A young alpaca learns how important her fleece is to humans.

“High up in the Andes, on a mountain in Peru, / Pati the alpaca gussied up for her debut.” Pati is off to meet her classmates by a lake. And right away the problems with this book present themselves. The story is a two-pronged one. On the one side is a story with a puritanical lesson that finds fault with Pati’s wanting to look her best, and Pati soon learns that she will be a better being if she willingly gives up her fleece to help humans keep warm. The second intent of the story seems to be to introduce children to Spanish words. Unfortunately, the meanings of the Spanish words sprinkled through the text are not obvious, forcing readers to flip back and forth between the story and the glossary at the end. For example: “One day, cría Carmen whispered, “Pati, ¡no te creas! / In the spring we lose our fur and then we’ll all be feas!” The illustrations are also problematic. With an emphasis on the cute and colorful, the images represent an Andean scenery of lush, fresh greens. Nothing could be more removed from the harsh environment that exists at these high altitudes.

Skip it. (glossary, author’s note, additional facts) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7624-9414-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Running Press

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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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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For fans of Evert and Breiehagen’s Wish Book series.

THE POLAR BEAR WISH

Anja and her dog, Birki, do their best to get to a Christmas party in a frozen Nordic landscape.

Anja wishes she had a dog sled to harness Birki to in order to get to the party. The next morning, her cousin Erik appears with his dog sled and an offer to take her there. Lost in a blizzard, they encounter talking wolves who take them to a tent where they can spend the night. A baby polar bear named Tiny appears, separated from his mother. The following day takes them all on an adventure through glaciers and fjords, past an ice castle, and finally to Tiny’s mother and to the party. This digitally produced book is illustrated with photographs that capture the Nordic setting. Unfortunately, the overall effect is weirdly flat, with elements awkwardly set together in images that lack depth. A polar bear perches awkwardly on top of oddly scaled pack ice; Anja and Erik spend a night in the ice castle in niches chiseled into the wall, but they seem oddly disconnected from it. The book has an old-fashioned, European feel; the white, blond children’s red caps and traditional clothing stand out against the dim, bluish winter light. But the wooden, overlong text does little to cultivate the magical fantasy feeling that it’s aiming for.

For fans of Evert and Breiehagen’s Wish Book series. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6566-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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