This sweet story makes a good springboard for vocabulary-enrichment activities in and out of the classroom.

TULIP AND REX WRITE A STORY

With the help of her beloved dog, a girl composes a story on a word-filled jaunt to the park.

Tulip and Rex each receive gifts from Grandma: a notebook for Tulip, a leash for the dog. Together they head to the park with their new possessions. Fun- and dance-loving Tulip, with Rex’s nudging, decides to make it a “word walk”; that is, she jots in her notebook words that describe her and Rex’s actions; objects or phenomena they notice; or words that describe them. The addition of the words “brave” and “kind,” prompted by Rex’s rescue of Tulip (and the notebook) from the park’s stream, inspires Tulip to devise an imaginative story (despite the title, Tulip tells, rather than writes), starring herself and Rex, using all the words she’s written. Garbed in dress-up items they selected before leaving home, dog and girl act out a royal drama in Massini’s lively, colorful digital illustrations, which are full of expressiveness, personality, and cheer. Readers may be disappointed that Tulip’s story never actually concludes, since, at a crucial moment in the telling, her parents call their daughter and pet to a picnic lunch, leaving the ending literally up in the air. They’ll be even more let down by the book’s flat ending but will hopefully be encouraged to go on word walks of their own and develop stories based on them.

This sweet story makes a good springboard for vocabulary-enrichment activities in and out of the classroom. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-209416-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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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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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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