Extremely—almost annoyingly—silly.

HEY, YOU'RE NOT SANTA!

Santa needs a bystander to stand in for him, but a child can see right through the ruse.

Santa is at the home of a child whose present he left at the North Pole. He needs someone to stand in for him while he dashes back to grab the gift. The only one nearby is a cow, who eagerly agrees to the task. Santa insists that the cow not let on that she isn’t Santa. But despite the elaborate costume (which does not hide cowbell, tail, or hooves), as soon as the cow says, “Moo-moo-moo, Merry Christmas,” the child has doubts. When the child apologizes for being out of milk, the cow mysteriously produces some. The cow thanks the child for putting out the tree, since she loves to eat grass and trees. When the child declares that the cow is not Santa, she tries to play herself off as anything else—Mrs. Claus? An elf? The Easter Bunny? Nope. But just as the cow starts to explain, the real Santa shows up with armfuls of extra gifts for the child for being so nice this year. There is no rhyme or reason to the story, and the goofy cartoon illustrations only exacerbate the ridiculousness, but a fraction of children will find it giggleworthy nonetheless. The all-dialogue text is set in speech bubbles. Santa (the real one) presents White; the skeptical child has light-brown skin and a pouf of brown hair. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Extremely—almost annoyingly—silly. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-65619-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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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 good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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