Flamboyant illustrations, unexpected adventures, and larger-than-life characters anchor this zany read-aloud.


A ravenous chicken leads the humans of the Ancient Times on a riotous romp.

Gladys begins her life as a dancing chicken living on a mountain with a Shepherd Boy, but her knack for being in the right place at the right time launches her on an incredible adventure. Touted as a magical wish-granting chicken, Gladys is spoiled, stolen, gifted, and bartered, until she finds her unlikely way home. Maybe Gladys is magical, maybe not, but either way, there’s no doubt that few chickens have led such an exciting life as she! Written with a cheeky tone, this offbeat story puts a modern spin on exaggerated archetypal characters known only by their capitalized titles, including a Traveling Merchant, the Brave Swordsman, the Learned Princess, and the Fearsome Pirate. An unnamed narrator adds humor that will appeal to elementary-age kids as well as adults. “Ancient Times” dialogue set on unfurling scrolls adds another comedic layer—as does Gladys’ penchant for “plooping” out an egg when faced with a surprise. Gladys’ rainbow-tinted plumage is set off by equally vibrant background hues. The painterly illustrations mix full- and double-page art with smaller, sequential artwork to achieve a cinematic effect. Melodramatic facial expressions and body language bring the characters, depicted with a range of skin tones, hair colors, and body types, to life. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Flamboyant illustrations, unexpected adventures, and larger-than-life characters anchor this zany read-aloud. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-32560-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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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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Dizzyingly silly.


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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