Clever wordplay and an unlikely (and adorable) protagonist make this book knot to be missed.

KNOT CANNOT

Knot is a short length of rope who wishes he were more like Snake, but…he’s knot.

Thus begins a zany exploration of all the things Snake can do (slither, hiss, swallow) that Knot cannot. Lowery’s signature madcap cartoons and hand lettering depict a smug snake and a surprisingly expressive knot with bug eyes and emotive stripes who produces long-suffering sighs in speech bubbles. Meanwhile, Stone’s text is both funny and punny: “Snake can even shed her skin. Snake looks brand-new. Can Knot look brand-new? No, he’s a frayed knot.” Additionally, rhyme-y knot/not combinations and jokes fill the pages. “Can Knot do this? Knot can…not. What can Knot do? Not a lot.” When danger approaches, however, Knot’s signature ability (“Knot can…knot!”) finally comes in handy to save his friend. Yes, it’s essentially a one-trick pony, but Stone and Lowery’s collaboration is a fun vehicle for important learning, ably illustrating the futility of comparing yourself to others while celebrating each individual’s strengths. As a bonus, it also sneakily includes actual information about several different types of knots that Knot can make.

Clever wordplay and an unlikely (and adorable) protagonist make this book knot to be missed. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3080-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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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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