The importance of keeping promises is delivered with a hearty dose of humor, making this a book to return to.

PARTY CROC!

A FOLKTALE FROM ZIMBABWE

A jolly Zimbabwean folk tale teaches the importance of keeping promises.

Zuva wishes for something to catch fish with when a friendly crocodile offers to catch some for her. But he wants something in return. Zuva promises the crocodile a food-filled party in town on Saturday if only he will get her some fish today. She figures the crocodile will forget the promise and won’t know when Saturday is. But this is a party croc, whose enthusiasm for the promised party will not let him forget it. Zuva shares the crocodile’s fish with the village but does not give proper credit. Each day, the excited crocodile checks in to see which day of the week it is, the patterned text lending itself to audience participation in MacDonald’s trademark style. When Saturday arrives, he is ready to roll. Surprised, Zuva tries to keep the crocodile quiet by feeding him, but the croc is not satisfied and disturbs the village, uncovering Zuva’s omission. Digitally stylized villagers, their mouths painted to the sides of their faces, meet the jolly crocodile’s questions with confusion, allowing readers to be in on the joke. Details add to the fun: He is dolled up with fish bracelets and a leaf bow tie! A brief author’s note details the origin of the tale.

The importance of keeping promises is delivered with a hearty dose of humor, making this a book to return to. (Picture book/folk tale. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6320-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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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 charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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