This tries too hard to be funny…and misses.

BE GLAD YOUR DAD...(IS NOT AN OCTOPUS!)

A pair of siblings explores the reasons why a dad of another species would be way worse than the dad they have now.

Even though their dad is sometimes grumpy and gross, at least he doesn’t leave balls of poop in their rooms as a dung-beetle dad might. And they should be glad he’s not a snake who might shed his skin in front of all their friends—that would be embarrassing. Saying “Boo!” to a skunk dad might result in some major stink, and an owl dad would keep them awake all night. Readers will get the idea after the first few spreads, but the shtick covers 16 animals. Chapman’s illustrations are done on vibrantly colored backgrounds, the characters and animals in full color, while props and extra details are only outlined in black. The typography gets in on the act: “Be glad your dad is not a TORTOISE, because e v e r y t h i n g  w o u l d  t a k e  f o r e v e r.” Like the words, a trail of melted ice cream stretches across the spread from the cone dad has scooped his child. While the characters’ faces express emotion, readers may be distracted by their noses, which are piglike and oddly dark against their otherwise fair skin. Three final pages tell “More about the animals in this book,” but these facts vary widely in the quality of the information they impart (it’s never explained why a quail dad would be boring, for instance).

This tries too hard to be funny…and misses. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-25438-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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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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