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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With four likable, diverse characters and the surefire appeal of cute puppies and other pets, the Critter Club is off to a...

AMY AND THE MISSING PUPPY

From the Critter Club series , Vol. 1

Amy, left alone while her friends travel or are otherwise occupied during break, solves a mystery in this series opener.

Amy whiles away her time helping with her mother’s veterinary practice. She misses her friends but looks forward to their next sleepover when everyone returns. When she’s not busy, she dives into her newest Nancy Drew book. When her mother’s wealthiest client’s puppy, Rufus, goes missing, it’s time for Amy to use what she has learned from Nancy Drew to find the little Saint Bernard. When she does, the millionaire client generously plans to start a local shelter, at which the four friends can volunteer, opening the door for further adventures of the Critter Club. A mystery for emerging chapter-book readers has to provide easy-to-see clues, and this one does, enabling readers to solve the mystery right along with Amy. At times, the narrative is a bit too obvious: There is probably no need to have a full paragraph explaining the purpose of a vet’s office nor descriptions of the girls’ physical characteristics, given that each page is illustrated.

With four likable, diverse characters and the surefire appeal of cute puppies and other pets, the Critter Club is off to a promising start. (Mystery. 5-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-5770-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2012

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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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