Though it is supposed to be a silent game—and here it is anything but that—this rendering of the childhood favorite captures...

PASS IT ON!

Sadler gives cockamamie treatment to this barnyard variant on the game of telephone.

"Cow is stuck in the fence." Or was it "Cow and Hen had good luck"? No matter: "Pass it on!" Now it’s "A good duck gave cow a penny." The game is one of those deeply amusing exposés of the corruption of information as it is passed along. Sadler’s approach to the game is humorous and artful: She twists and fractures the words in delightful fashion, sometimes from what appears to be mishearing, sometimes from embroidery or exaggeration. The cumulative errors result in a fine and farcical ending. Without putting a heavy hand on the proceedings, Sadler illustrates just how inaccuracies in communication can lead to utter balderdash, as they might in gossip and rumormongering. Slack’s accompanying artwork crackles with energy and color, and the barnyard creatures have a high degree of personality. Each instance of passing it on has at least two windows of activity, one depicting the act itself and the other what the corruption would look like.

Though it is supposed to be a silent game—and here it is anything but that—this rendering of the childhood favorite captures the essence of its illuminating comedy. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 22, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60905-188-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Apple

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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