CHATO AND THE PARTY ANIMALS

Chato, Novio Boy, Chorizo, and the mouse family next door in the animal barrio of Chato’s Kitchen (1995) are back. This time, Chato throws a surprise birthday party to help cheer up Novio Boy, who tearfully confesses that he grew up in a pound and has never been given a party. Chato’s oversight is that he forgets to invite his carnal (brother). But all ends well, and the pachanga (festive party) lasted until the sun went down, the moon came up, and the neighbors started throwing shoes at them to stop the racket.” Spanish words sprinkled throughout the text are defined in a glossary that precedes the story. Guevara’s rich acrylic-on-scratchboard paintings steal the show, bringing to life the vibrant neighborhood, two rollicking parties, the mercado (market) where Chato shops, and the personalities of the main characters. While Novio Boy has never known his mother, a cat in a red dress, with breasts, a golden halo, and white wings appears as his guardian angel throughout. And when Novio Boy acknowledges the revelers as mi familia (my family), he is holding a Mexican tree of life that pictures all his friends. Guevara’s art spreads across and bleeds off the double pages with humor, action, and a pleasing variety of perspectives. Here is a party that all will enjoy. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: July 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-399-23159-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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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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THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE

Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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