Neighborliness, sibling friendship, and bits of a fractured fairy tale can’t overcome the book’s limitations.

VIOLET AND THE WOOF

A modern-day Little Red Riding Hood travels through her apartment building.

Violet, a determined girl wearing a short red dress, and her toddler brother, Peter, are exploring their building. Both are white. While pulling Peter’s wagon through the hallway, she starts telling him a familiar tale. In the elevator, they meet a woman with dark brown skin and white hair carrying a dog whose shadow appears to be quite ferocious. When Peter says: “WOOF!” (his only word), Violet assures him (and herself) that it’s not a wolf. Violet informs the woman that they are bringing their sick neighbor Papa Jean-Louis “soup and cookies,” and she responds, “I’ll be heading that way myself.” After traversing deep woods with animals and a “damp, dingy, cave,” they finally reach their destination, where they encounter someone all wrapped up on the couch. Is it Papa Jean-Louis? Or is it a creature with eyes “so big,” “ears so…hairy,” and teeth too sharp? Violet’s storytelling skills and overactive imagination are augmented by the colorful illustrations, done in a naïve style and combining the everyday environment and the fairy-tale world. It’s charming, but it missteps. Violet’s reassuring interjections to Peter during her own narration interrupt the flow of the story, and positioning the two dark-skinned people as objects of fear is unfortunate despite the revelation that they are clearly benevolent.

Neighborliness, sibling friendship, and bits of a fractured fairy tale can’t overcome the book’s limitations. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-244110-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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