No owls here, but this one is definitely a hoot.

THE FARM THAT MAC BUILT

This Animal Theater production, way off-Broadway, has some unexpected guest appearances.

Beet microphone in hand, the scarecrow from Old MacDonald’s farm narrates this stage production of a “mostly true story.” The MC begins: “This is the farm that Mac built. / These are the … // …pigs (Oink!) that live on the farm / that Mac built.” The suit-clad pigs are followed by cows in tasteful frocks. Pig-and-cow pairs dance around the barn stage. Next come the…monkeys?! The scarecrow shoos them off the stage, and the sheep “(Baa!)” enter in tutus, with one performing a graceful grand jeté. Much better…but they are followed by…breakdancing kangaroos?! The scarecrow apologizes, and a one-horse band joins the production “(Neigh!).” Next, of course are—Wagnerian elephants? Sheesh. Eggs arrive, and that’s all well and good…but these hatch into penguins. After a short moment, the scarecrow assembles everyone (who belongs) for a curtain call of animal sounds that includes one more giggle-inducing oopsie. Sauer’s cumulative mashup of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” and “The House That Jack Built” will delight audiences familiar with both. Urbanovic’s cartoon illustrations of (mostly) clothed animal performers elevate this nightmare production into a hilarious comedy of errors. There are plenty of details in the illustrations to prompt new laughs in subsequent reads.

No owls here, but this one is definitely a hoot. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-11302-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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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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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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