THE THREE BILLY GOATS GRUFF

A classic fairy tale gets a facelift, with collage illustrations and a delightful repetitive phrase sure to rouse smiles. For these three brothers, the grass is greener on the other side of the bridge. So the littlest one sets out to cross the bridge, the home of the fearsome troll: “I’m a troll, from a deep dark hole, / My belly’s getting thinner. / I need to eat—and goat’s a treat— / So I’ll have you for my dinner.” As usual, the goat escapes, but only by extolling the virtues of his bigger brother. The second brother goes through the same scenario. Both brothers are now eating the greener grass on the other side of the bridge. But what excuse will the biggest goat give to the troll? There are no bigger goats than he. So he simply kicks him into next week and trots across the bridge. Using textured paper, Arenson (Manu and the Talking Fish, not reviewed, etc.) has created a wonderfully gruesome troll, complete with long nose topped with green wart, wild spiked hair, orange teeth, and purple toenails. He fairly pops off the page, but unfortunately, the rest of her collaged illustrations are comparatively two-dimensional—the bright pink, yellow, and blue seem flatter by contrast. Still, this perky, new—and less violent—edition will delight readers in their traditional quest for the greenest grass. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-84148-349-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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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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JOHN PHILIP DUCK

Edward and his father work for the Peabody Hotel in Memphis since the Depression has brought hard times for so many. On weekends they return to their farm in the hills and it’s there Edward finds John Philip Duck, named for the composer whose marches Edward listens to on the radio. Edward has to look after the scrawny duckling during the week, so he risks the ire of the hotel manager by taking John Philip with him. The expected occurs when Mr. Shutt finds the duckling. The blustery manager makes Edward a deal. If Edward can train John Philip to swim in the hotel fountain all day (and lure in more customers), Edward and the duck can stay. After much hard work, John Philip learns to stay put and Edward becomes the first Duck Master at the hotel. This half-imagined story of the first of the famous Peabody Hotel ducks is one of Polacco’s most charming efforts to date. Her signature illustrations are a bit brighter and full of the music of the march. An excellent read aloud for older crowds, but the ever-so-slightly anthropomorphic ducks will come across best shared one-on-one. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-399-24262-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2004

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