Pinkney puts his heart into a story he loves, and makes it live again.


Pinkney dwells on this story of Rikki-tikki-tavi, the sensible, brave mongoose adopted by an English family living in India.

The animals speak to each other, so readers know how the little mongoose is aided by the tailorbird, Darzee, and and his wife in escaping death from the menacing cobras who hope to kill the human family and raise their 25 hatchlings in an empty house. Excitement and danger ebb and flow throughout the illustrations for this classic story. The people are drawn with less vitality than the creatures, yet the stances and concerns of the human parents echo those of the animals for their children. Exotic flora borders garden baths; a few details—an antique inkwell- -exemplify the period; yet the true strength of the large watercolors is in the framing of deadly fighting and impending attacks.

Pinkney puts his heart into a story he loves, and makes it live again. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-688-14320-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1997

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Hee haw.

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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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This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

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