Humorous, engaging illustrations support a slight but amusing tale.

ESCAPE GOAT

The members of the Farmer family keep blaming their problems on their goat.

When the goat escapes from his pen, he gets into mischief—but is it he who tramples Mrs. Farmer’s petunias? Did the goat eat Andrew’s homework? Did he really knock over the paint can? Eat all the cupcakes for Archer’s birthday party? And how about the gum on Mr. Farmer’s seat? Mr. Farmer correctly observes that “Goats don’t chew gum.” Andrew retorts: “Escape Goat does.” It takes honest Nicolette to finally get to the truth. She has to shout: “You’re punishing the goat for things he didn’t do.” The other family members don’t want to admit their own foibles, but in a slapstick scene Andrew throws a ball that hits the water pitcher carried by Mrs. Farmer; the water spills onto Uncle Nathan, who’s carrying a basket of muffins; the muffins are hurled at Mr. Farmer who drops a huge salad. In the midst of this great ado, Nicolette sensibly points out the goat grazing nearby and says: “The goat didn’t do anything.” The story itself lacks real substance and the wordplay on “scapegoat” will almost certainly elude young readers, but they will get the visual jokes, made evident in Glasser’s exuberant ink-and-watercolor cartoons. The humans (white-presenting save Archer, who has beige skin), the animals, and the farm itself are delightfully represented.

Humorous, engaging illustrations support a slight but amusing tale. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-288339-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 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 good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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