High-energy ride to nowhere.

OLD MACDONALD HAD HER FARM

A new take on the old song highlights the role of vowels in the English language.

“Old MacDonald had her farm, / a e i o u. / And when she came across an a, / this is what she’d do:  / Saw barn planks, stack sacks….” Youngsters will never mistake this for the familiar song, especially when they attempt to read the tongue-twisting, nearly nonsense text aloud. Lawson’s giddily flowing style just doesn’t adapt well to this grammar lesson. The garish computer-generated art complements the silly tone by showing Old MacDonald fiddling with a Rube Goldberg–type contraption for sawing and stacking on the “a” page and continuing her over-the-top farm chores on the succeeding ones. There is really no story here, just a jumble of words that demonstrate the various sounds that each vowel can make. However, readers and listeners will enjoy following the action on each page right until the end, when Mr. and Mrs. MacDonald seem to settle down into a rowdy song with all their animals singing along. Teachers might find this helpful when working on vowels, and children will enjoy making lists of words that rhyme with the words in the story. No one will mistake this for anything other than a school exercise.

High-energy ride to nowhere. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-55451-457-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 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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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

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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