Saturday 9 March 2013

The House that Wonky Built

The House that Wonky Built [with CD] by Craig Smith, illustrated by Katz Cowley (Scholastic NZ)
PB RRP $24.99 (includes CD & activity kit)
ISBN 978-1-77543– 115-2
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

The House that Wonky Built is an activity pack inspired by and including the well loved picture book The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith. 

‘I was walking down the road and I saw ... a donkey. He had only three legs ... And one eye! He was a winky wonky donkey.’

The rhythm of the words, the build up of the repetition and the increasingly difficult tongue twisting end line all make this story a delight to read no matter how many times you are called to.

The illustrations by Katz Cowley are fabulous. The Wonky Donkey’s character is portrayed through his cheeky grin and is charming, playful and attractive despite his three legs, one eye and bad smell. The little bird, who follows Wonky through the pages, is a great character too. This small yellow companion experiences the donkey’s characteristics for us. He faints at Wonky’s bad smell, flies off with the donkey’s eye, and plays Wonky’s honky tonk music on the gramophone. My favourite picture is Bird sitting in the grass looking up at Donkey, emphasising the clever perspective from below, making Wonky Donkey look tall and slim.

The activity pack with the book includes a play set, removable stickers and a cd. This play set folds out to create Wonky’s stables, three rooms and an outdoor area. Along with this are several pages of foldable furniture and accessories to create Wonky’s world, as well as Wonky Donkey and Bird. I especially love the inclusion of the coffee machine and pot. This has all been cleverly created by paper engineer Phillip Fickling.

While playing with Wonky Donkey and recreating the story, children can listen to the very amusing CD included in the kit. The honky-tonky tune is performed by Craig Smith.

This book can be enjoyed from a very young age, but the play set is best suited for over six year olds. Even at this age, children will need adult help to construct the furniture as it is more complex than paper dolls, but there are hours of fun to be had during and after construction. I think upper primary children would enjoy the humour and ingenuity of the furniture, stables and ‘setting up house’.

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