Disappointingly didactic and predictable.

THE PERFECT ANIMAL

Reguera lets her young protagonist’s mind run free as she ponders “what the most incredible animal in the world is.”

Valentina is walking home hand in hand with her mother, human but looking rather like an angelic lemur gazing at heaven, when she asks her mother what, animalwise, is “The most spectacular! The besty besty best of all!” Students are to dress up on Tuesday as their favorite animals, but she wants to be the perfect animal. Valentina goes on to answer her own question, starting with an elephant (“giant tusks,” “those huge ears for keeping cool,” “the only animal with a trunk for spraying,” which sounds more like a resume than anything else). But what about cold weather? Maybe a bear would be better. Each creature—bat, giraffe, fish, and so on—ends up tipping Valentina into a different, equally stream-of-consciousness and preciously voiced musing. More inviting are the boxed, paper-clipped notepad “Fun Facts” that accompany each animal: “The elephant is the only animal that can’t jump”; “Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backwards.” Lemurlike Valentina is depicted inside each animal, looking out through what appears to be the porthole of a diving bell. The answer to the perfect animal (a little bit of each and “a sprinkle of Valentina”) will come as no surprise.

Disappointingly didactic and predictable. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-84-946333-9-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: nubeOCHO

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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