A (mostly) heartwarming follow-up visit.

THE FARMER AND THE MONKEY

In this wordless picture book, Frazee’s lonely farmer hosts another visitor from the train on the horizon.

The elderly White gent first met in The Farmer and the Clown (2014) walks home from a picnic, looking rather down, unaware he is being followed by a small monkey in a red fez and yellow frill around its neck. As he settles into his empty house, he notices the smiling monkey at the window. He lets the monkey in the front door, but after a dizzying spread depicting the monkey running amok, the farmer sends the monkey out. The frowning monkey spends the night outside as snow begins to fall. The farmer awakes to deep snow and immediately goes out to rescue the monkey. After a warm fire, soup, a story, and falling asleep on the farmer’s shoulder, the monkey spends two nights at the farmer’s house; on the day in between, the farmer and his animals tolerate the monkey’s loud, wild ways. Finally, like the clown in the book before him, the monkey hears the circus train coming and goes on its way, smiles all around. Frazee’s soft colors, careful lines, and masterful compositions work their magic once again to evoke mood and feeling in a way that children can immediately grasp. The experience hits adult readers just as powerfully, though readers who decry picture-book depictions of monkeys for reinforcing negative stereotypes of Black people will find no mitigation in the monkey’s antics. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.3-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 54.1% of actual size.)

A (mostly) heartwarming follow-up visit. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4619-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 32

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

more