No snake oil here—just great fun.

HORNSWOGGLED!

A WACKY WORDS WHODUNIT

Absurd words have a field day.

Deer wakes one day to discover that one of his antlers is missing—and has been replaced by a tennis racket. He’s been “hornswoggled!” He seeks aid from Catfish, who reaches for her glasses to better see what’s happening—and in turn finds that they’ve been replaced by two doughnuts (with sprinkles). “What a load of codswallop!” The pair troops over to other pals, all of whom discover to their annoyance that their belongings have also been stolen and replaced with nonsensical items. Each friend declares itself the victim of “poppycock,” “hogwash,” “horsefeathers,” and other dastardly offenses. When a skunk detective with a Belgian accent offers help but realizes his deerstalker has been replaced by a slice of pie, frenetic scurrying about ensues—until the culprit and purloined items are located. The thief has the effrontery to boast of her skill at fooling everyone, but there’s one final trick to be played….Kids will savor the silliness of this vocabulary-boosting treat, love rolling their tongues around goodies like bamboozled, and look for opportunities to use them. The targeted fun words are printed in boldface throughout and defined via explanatory signs (held up by an armadillo) on the pages where they occur or nearby. Some unfamiliar words or phrases go unexplained but should be understood through context. Droll cartoon illustrations match the expressive animal characters’ comic shenanigans.

No snake oil here—just great fun. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64567-284-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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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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Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...

GRUMPY MONKEY

It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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