Beyond just breaking the fourth wall, this clever account of a lobster at a dinner party directly involves readers in the choice of outcome.

Well-mannered lobster Lenny is “delighted” to receive an invitation to a fancy dinner party, and he does every proper thing: dons his hat, grooms his claws and mustache, and arrives with gifts and flowers. The other guests are just as happy to see him, but alert readers will understand what is meant by “In fact, they seemed a little too excited….” The truth is revealed via several visual clues, including one party guest actually drooling and a chef with a tray full of claw crackers; one young girl sits with her back to the door, arms folded, and a grumpy look on her face. Lenny appears clueless that people would be so rude as to eat him. Then, it’s time for readers to choose: Should Lenny stay? Madcap adventures ensue no matter the choice, and the potentially unhappy conclusion—with Lenny on a plate—is lightened, as readers are directed to go back to the beginning and start again. In both scenarios, “little Imogen,” the grumpy girl from the beginning, comes to the rescue. The limited palette of lobster reds and ocean blues outlined in scratchy black suits the wry, understated tone, though child readers familiar with the crustacean will note that bright-red Lenny has been cooked from the very beginning.

Diverting . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7148-7864-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Phaidon

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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Hee haw.

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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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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...


A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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