You can only say, "Oh, the poor pony!" so many times.



A small pony recounts his melodramatic life.

The nameless pony is first given to a little girl on her birthday. They compete over fences and win, until they try a jump that is "just too high." The girl falls off, and her angry parents sell the pony to a circus, where for years he partners with a dwarf in a clown act. When the circus disbands, the pony, now old, thin and pathetic, is sold at auction. His original little girl, now grown, happens to be at the same auction. She recognizes him, and, of course, they live happily ever after. At 48 text-heavy pages, it's long for a picture book, and the pace suffers accordingly—several scenes, such as the opening with the pony and his dam in a field, take up a lot of pages but don't move the story forward. The emotional tone often feels forced or misplaced, as when the circus fails because the audience "stayed home, playing video games," and the perspective seems more adult than child-friendly. Dockray's watercolor illustrations are better than her text. Animals and people are both lifelike and full of emotion, and she varies perspective and tone to convey changing moods. Overall, it's hard to see an appropriate audience for this one—small children won't sit through it, older ones will be bored.

You can only say, "Oh, the poor pony!" so many times. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: July 19, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-59259-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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Everyone except die-hard Pig fans may skip this installment.


From the Pig the Pug series

People who live in popular spots always complain when human tourists invade, but when the visitor is an unruly dog like Pig the pug, the situation gets even worse.

The big-eyed, ill-behaved pug runs roughshod over everyone: his owner, a brown-skinned woman who remains faceless; Trevor, his owner’s other dog, a big-eyed dachshund (every human and animal has large eyes in Blabey’s amusing illustrations); and all the other people, animals, works of art, and architectural marvels encountered in Pig’s world travels. Pig disrupts a Japanese geisha’s lunch; he angers some scantily clad Caribbean carnival dancers; he breaks the head off the Sphinx in Egypt; and he disturbs the queen’s tea and menaces her prize corgis, prompting the headline: “CHAOS AT THE PALACE: Queen shaken, not stirred.” (Young readers will likely be unmoved by this joke.) Yes, the rhyming text is occasionally clever and the pictures are full of action, but there is nothing original in this skewed presentation of a few of the world’s best-known, stereotypically presented tourist sites. Although Pig does get a well-deserved punishment for his rude behavior (piranhas attack when he least expects it), he still manages to get the last word when he stinks up first class with a very explicitly visual fart. The moral of the story? Leave Pig in the kennel when you travel.

Everyone except die-hard Pig fans may skip this installment. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-59339-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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