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I Yam a Donkey!

by Cece Bell

Publishers Weekly Newbery Honoree Bell (El Deafo) creates a laugh-out-loud dialogue in the tradition of "Who's on First?" or Lane Smith's It's a Book. "I yam a donkey!" a googly-eyed donkey proclaims. A bespectacled yam objects. "What did you say? `I yam a donkey?' The proper way to say that is `I am a donkey.' " "You is a donkey, too?" the donkey asks. "You is a funny-looking donkey." The yam tries to educate the donkey, while the donkey demonstrates only hopeless thickheadedness. The appearance of a carrot, a turnip, and some green beans allows the yam to review conjugations of the verb "to be." The donkey, however, spies a meal. "Oh!" he cries, finally getting it. "You is lunch!" In a linguistic landscape where literally can mean figuratively and flammable and inflammable are interchangeable, Bell's story celebrates the idea that language changes, and pedants who can't adapt will be left in the dust (or in a donkey's belly). The ending sends a message that any child can endorse: "If you is going to be eaten, good grammar don't matter." Ages 4-8. Agent: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (June) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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School Library Journal Gr 1-3-The cartoon illustrations of Bell's stab at eliminating a grammatical error are more engaging than her text, and it is probable that the intended audience will not grasp the lesson she's put forward. A donkey states, "I yam a donkey!" and a yam protests the improper use of the word yam. In the ensuing conversation, the donkey repeatedly uses yam when he should be saying am and the tuber becomes increasingly perturbed. Bell's drawings, done in china marker and acrylic, are lively and convey emotion through her judicious use of line, but the grammatical issue is less common now than in Popeye's heyday, and the joke goes on so long that it becomes tiresome. VERDICT Despite its inviting illustrations, this book misses the mark.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Library, NY Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.