Seek no more for words to describe this winner: a standout!

HAVE YOU SEEN GORDON?

A seek-and-find story with twists to spare.

Let’s get this out of the way up front: Gordon, the purported star of this most unusual adventure, makes it plain early on that this being-found stuff isn’t for him, thanks very much, though at first, he’s pretty good at it. It’s not that Gordon, a purple tapir with a white stripe across his abdomen, wishes to hide. His seemingly uncooperative attitude, explained in a funny exchange with the book’s chatty, unseen narrator, actually stems from his desire to “stand out.” The narrator agrees to select another candidate (and to “change the title of the book”). Mind you, there’s quite a crowded cast of colorful characters to choose from on the minutely detailed spreads. So next up is a blue construction-worker rhino in a hard hat who shyly eludes the “honor” and eventually does a literal runner—but not before she proudly announces her name: Jane. Gordon, enjoying himself among his many pals in various settings, is eventually enlisted to help find her and comes up with a superb, emotionally empowering idea—one that turns out to be both a truly splendid seek-and-find exercise for readers and a satisfyingly lovely conclusion. Riotously written and wittily illustrated with plenty of details for kids to savor, this charmer will keep readers laughing and looking. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Seek no more for words to describe this winner: a standout! (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7736-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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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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Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...

GRUMPY MONKEY

It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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