A self-image story about as three-dimensional as its title character.

RANDY, THE BADLY DRAWN HORSE

A vaguely horse-shaped drawing goes on a vague, drawn-out journey.

Randy is a blobby, beige quadruped with wide, staring eyes and a cheerful crayon grin. Centered on a blank white page, he proclaims immediately upon his creation that he is beautiful and loved by all and that his given name must be “reserved only for the most special of creatures.” A disembodied speech-bubble conversation between the young artist and their mother extolls Randy’s skills and preferred activities, and Randy replies with varying degrees of narcissism and sarcasm, unheard by the child in the book but potentially enjoyed by a child reading it. A lunch break results in the white void Randy occupies being interrupted with photographed drops of what appear to be peanut butter and strawberry jam, leading into an “adventure” through construction-paper obstacles, popsicle-stick forests, and a run-in with the book’s gutter. The journey ends anticlimactically at a pool of water, wherein Randy discovers his reflection, which reveals him to be without long, elegant legs, a gorgeous mane, or glossy coat. After the brief existential crisis this triggers, the child’s proclamation that “I love Randy, my beautiful horse,” soothes Randy into acceptance of his appearance. Endpapers feature an “in-depth and comprehensive guide” for how to draw a horse, featuring a Victorian illustration as the final step (scribbled out on the rear endpapers).

A self-image story about as three-dimensional as its title character. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-18590-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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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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