Fans will definitely want to visit the publisher’s website to check out the extras, while newcomers will either do the same...

PETE THE CAT AND HIS FOUR GROOVY BUTTONS

In his third outing Pete the Cat follows the pattern of his previous appearances: Despite repeated wardrobe malfunctions, he maintains his upbeat attitude and bouncy charm.

This time around the focus is on the buttons on Pete’s favorite shirt, instead of his shoes, and there’s even a bit of math involved. Still, for readers who have met Pete previously there’s not much here that’s new. Pete moves from his cozy chair to a skateboard to the street outside to a surfboard on top of an old-style Volkswagen Beetle. In each spot, for no apparent reason, one button pops off. The repeated refrain asks “Did Pete cry?” and answers “Goodness, no! Buttons come and buttons go.” As a song it’s likely perky, but read aloud, the text can seem tedious and overlong. Still, the brightly colored, childlike paintings and playful typography should keep kids’ attention, and some will also enjoy identifying the large numerals as they count backwards from four to zero. A final twist finds Pete admiring his bellybutton, which will always be with him unlike the “stuff” that “will come and…go,” offering the option of a mildly anti-consumerist message for parents who choose to emphasize it.

Fans will definitely want to visit the publisher’s website to check out the extras, while newcomers will either do the same or let Pete go, depending on their taste. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-211058-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012

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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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