CLICK, CLACK, QUACK TO SCHOOL!

From the Click Clack Book series

“On Monday, Duck brought a letter to Farmer Brown. Some of it was written in crayon.”

The crayoned interpolation to the typewritten invitation to visit Dinkelmeyer Elementary School reads: “Bring the animals, too!” Farmer Brown tells the cows to get ready, setting off much stomping and mooing; killjoy Farmer Brown then tells them that “school is very quiet,” which lessens their excitement. Similarly, after getting the chickens excited, Farmer Brown tells them that “school is very serious,” and he tells the pigs that “school is very calm.” When he finds Duck, the fowl is meditating on a yoga pillow; he is told “not to be so Duck-y.” It’s a solemn bunch that pulls up at school—but when the schoolyard fills with boisterous youngsters, the animals loosen right up, mooing and stomping, clucking and clapping, oinking and hollering. Duck, of course is “just Duck-y,” installing himself at the principal’s desk. This latest entry in the venerable series offers a few chuckles and opportunities for children to moo, cluck, and oink, but the delicious overturning of expectations earlier entries have provided here feels just as flat as the animals’ emotions. Readers new to the series won’t know why Duck shouldn’t be “Duck-y,” making that extended joke one for insiders only. Farmer Brown is white; the children, seen only on one double-page spread, are diverse, and one of them uses a wheelchair.

Not ducky. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1449-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 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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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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