At points, this book is hilariously funny, but for those who aren’t fans of wordplay, this might be a pun-ishing read.

ANIMALICIOUS

A QUIRKY ABC BOOK

The late author and her collaborators create, combine, and reimagine a batch of spirited new animals from A to Z.

Packed full of invented punny and portmanteau animalgamations such as the “kangarude,” a golden marsupial with tongue out and eyes narrowed, cavalierly kicking over the letter K, the book presents a bevy of oddball beasts to accompany each letter. Every critter has its own unorthodox name, look, or point of emphasis in the word, such as the blushing, naked “polar bare” or a “lobster” that lobs an L. Readers will smirk at many of the funny combinations, but the humor is hard-won, as deciphering the clever names and underlying meanings, while supremely satisfying, is also labor-intensive. Those with more sophisticated vocabularies may fully parse the names, but obscure references, such as the “macawbre,” a macaw dressed in a Poe-inspired coat, will likely fly right over many readers’ heads. Using the letters as props for their antics, wildly peculiar, primitively drawn animals dash across the page, setting a zany tone. The potent primary colors, scribbly, smudgy textures, and lack of outlines constraining the creatures all contribute to the free-wheeling feel. Boldt’s images, such as a “hippotomess” surrounded by melted ice-cream and fast food wrappers, give useful clues about how to interpret the animal’s name.

At points, this book is hilariously funny, but for those who aren’t fans of wordplay, this might be a pun-ishing read. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9205-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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