A fun and engaging book with plenty of humor.

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HAMSTER SITTER WANTED

Hamster friends Marco and Polo don’t want to give up their adventures, so they look for a sitter who can handle all of Marco’s rowdy little cousins.

Marco and Polo just want to go sky diving or “lion dancing” together, but sitter after sitter refuses to return once they have spent a day with the uncountable horde of hamster children. Just as Marco and Polo have reluctantly decided to give up their hobbies, they meet Ms. Bottomus, a hippopotamus who reins in the hamsters by literally sitting on them. Children will get a laugh out of the puns and visual jokes throughout the book. Gunaratnam infuses the text with simple but amusing wordplay, such as the “wound up” sheep babysitter, who is both frazzled and literally wrapped in yarn. Marks peppers her digitally collaged illustrations with details for children to notice, such as a pigeon looking on in concern as a fox reads the ad seeking a hamster sitter and a tailpiece in which two of the little hamsters construct pointy-hat “derrière defenders.” Though there are some puzzling elements (How old are Marco and Polo? Why do they live together? Where have all the responsible adults gone?), the plot follows a satisfying problem-and-solution structure and, enjoyably, does not end in a lesson about how good children should behave.

A fun and engaging book with plenty of humor. (illustrator’s note) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-84886-359-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Maverick Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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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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Daddy-and-child dog lovers can try some of these canine ways of expressing affection.

DADDIES ARE AWESOME

Puppies celebrate the many ways their dads are awesome.

“Daddies are playful. / They swing you around. // You ride on their shoulders / or hang upside down.” The first spread pictures a scruffy pup, mouth clamped on its dad’s tail, hanging. The second features a long dachshund, his four pups using the large expanse of his back as a jungle gym or resting spot. The husky dad is labeled as daring, brave, and strong, while the hound takes his pup on adventures (digging and hiding under a bush). Other dog dads give kisses and tickles, tell bedtime stories and help count sheep (a stuffed toy), and help their pups grow (challenging them with stairs and carrying them when the going gets tough). Lovšin creatively interprets some of the text that applies well to kids but not so well to canines: dad and pup at each end of a long stick held in their mouths is the dog equivalent of holding hands. Though many dog breeds will be familiar, some are just mutts, though all are shown caring for and enjoying the company of their offspring. White backgrounds keep the focus on the dogs.

Daddy-and-child dog lovers can try some of these canine ways of expressing affection. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-452-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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