WHO INVITED YOU?

Rollicking counting fun takes place in a swamp like no other. When a little girl decides to go polling in the swamp, she has no idea of the passengers she will soon acquire . . . all of them uninvited and unwelcome. But as the guests figure, “If you got room for one, you got room for two.” So possum, skunk, frog, muskrat, heron, coon, beaver, and otter all join the boat, which soon has not a spare inch of room left. But no counting book stops at just nine, and this one is no exception. Suddenly a looming gator makes ten—all double-paged spread of him, getting bigger and bigger, “a smilin’ / a slinkin’ / a-blinky-blanky-winkin’.” But where will he fit? No problem. The boat may not have room for gator, but gator certainly has room for all of its annoying passengers. In the twisted ending, the little girl is at last free to continue her journey. Alone. Booth’s uproarious watercolors leave just enough of a suggestion that the animals escaped being lunch to make the ending humorous and there hasn’t been a gator like this one in a long time. Fleming’s (A Big Cheese for the White House, 1999, etc.) sense of rhythm and rhyme make this a great read-aloud and the combination of author and illustrator count up to big fun. Pair this with Nancy Van Laan’s Possum Come a-Knockin’ (1990) and April Wayland’s It’s Not My Turn to Look for Grandma (1995) for an all-Booth extravaganza. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83153-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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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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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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