The book fails to address the roots of Goat’s bad temper or his turnaround, equating them with dandelions in the wind, and...

GRUMPY GOAT

An out-of-sorts goat goes back and forth between grumpy and happy in this slight tale with a murky message.

Formerly a friendly farm, Sunny Acres changes with the arrival of Goat, who has never had a friend before. “He was hungry. He was grumpy. He didn’t want to share.” He spurns the other animals’ friendly overtures and focuses on scowling and eating. But the lone dandelion in full bloom at the top of Sunrise Hill stops him in his tracks—it “remind[s] him of something.” He provides water and keeps the grass around it trimmed neatly. Most notably, when the other animals approach, he doesn’t chase them away or scowl, finally making friends. But his melancholy returns when the dandelion turns into a fragile puff that disappears in the breeze. Unable to cheer him up, his farmyard friends keep him company…until those scattered seeds bear fruit, bathing the hillside in yellow-flower sunshine. Helquist’s acrylic-and-oil illustrations fail to take advantage of the obvious interplay of emotions, the palette remaining overly dark throughout most of the pages. The cartoonish animals speak volumes with their comical facial expressions, though this adds to the facile treatment of Goat’s moodiness.

The book fails to address the roots of Goat’s bad temper or his turnaround, equating them with dandelions in the wind, and may leave readers feeling grumpy with the lack of a true problem or solution. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-113953-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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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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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...

THE BOOK HOG

A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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