Kids may respond to the shaggy yak, but that may not be enough for real staying power.


Animal-friendship stories are plentiful, but this one is an unusual pairing of characters.

When Dove asks Yak, “Do you ever wish we were twins?” Yak answers, “No, Dove.” Dove persists, citing all of the nifty things they could do, like wear matching clothes, invent rhyming names, live in the same house, and eat an equal number of cupcakes. But the nice possibilities soon turn into carping. Yak calls Dove “ill-mannered,” and Dove calls Yak “smelly,” and just like that, they are no longer friends. “Lamenting,” Yak tells Marmot of this newfound need for a friend, so Marmot holds auditions for a talent show. Wolf’s declared the winner, but it’s Dove who wins back Yak’s heart. Friends again, they make a quiet garden together. Watercolor, gouache, and colored-pencil illustrations dramatize the differences in the characters’ sizes and add touches of whimsy, often in the form of the lightly anthropomorphized animals’ attire. Yak likes footwear (kids will especially like the four high-top sneakers in one vignette); Dove wears the occasional tiny accessory; Wolf wears a blue tutu and bra. The text is entirely delivered in a question-and-answer repartee (individual types for each character) that both moves the story along and maintains the characters’ gender ambiguity. Still, agreeable though it is, it lacks the charm and characterization of such standards as Frog and Toad.

Kids may respond to the shaggy yak, but that may not be enough for real staying power. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77049-494-7

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.


Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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