Trying hard does not equal funny (or groovy)


From the Groovy Joe series , Vol. 2

Groovy Joe the hip hound dog is back for a sequel, following up on his first musical adventure, Ice Cream and Dinosaurs (2016).

This time Joe and his squirrel sidekick are hosting a disco dance party, with more and more dogs knocking at their door and joining the jam session with their own instruments. The canine entrances seem to be set up as knock-knock jokes, but there are no subsequent punch lines (or the anticipated humor of a funny answer). Each additional grouping of dogs is summarized as a number sentence that is reinforced in the text, with large, hand-lettered type repeating “Disco Party Bow-Wow!” as a refrain. The conclusion offers an invitation to readers to join the party, as there’s always room for more guests. Bold illustrations show the canines cavorting at the party, playing various instruments, and the groups of animals can be counted to match the number sentences that serve as the obvious teaching point of the story (there is no actual plot). The dogs all appear to be male, except (probably) for a pink poodle with a green bow who plays the violin. A musical version of the story can be downloaded at the publisher’s website, and the story might be fun when sung and acted out. Sticklers may object to ungrammatical constructions in the text that reflect the casual nature of the writing style: “Two dogs in the room means less space for Joe”; “Joe invited who?”

Trying hard does not equal funny (or groovy) . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88379-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Hee haw.

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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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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...


Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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