Review: I Yam a Donkey! by Cece Bell

I Yam a Donkey by Cece Bell

I Yam a Donkey! by Cece Bell (InfoSoup)

This silly little book is a read-aloud gem. A donkey declares on the cover “I yam a donkey!” But unfortunately, he’s speaking to a yam and a rather persnickety one at that. The yam can’t leave the donkey’s odd grammar alone, and tries to correct him, but that quickly devolves into a “Who’s on first” type of exchange where misunderstandings pile up and the silliness does too. When the yam finally manages to explain that he is not a donkey (as the donkey has been misunderstanding) but actually a yam and all of the other characters are also vegetables, the ending takes a deliciously dark turn.

Bell uses impeccable comedic timing to make this picture book work so well. The vaudeville like comedy works perfectly here, playing up the stodgy yam and the enthusiastically confused donkey. The two are divergent personalities and make for a book that is such a strong read aloud that you really can’t read it silently. It begs to be shared and done with exquisitely different and wild voices since it’s written entirely in dialogue.

Bell’s illustrations are large and funny. Again, the two characters are shown as very different and the donkey mistaken the rather wrinkly and orange yam as a donkey is made all the funnier thanks to the illustrations. The final twist is wonderful and will have children who are a little older than preschool enjoying the grammar jokes and the ending together.

Funny, wildly silly and completely satisfying, this picture book will work best with elementary aged children who will get the dark humor as well as the grammar jokes. Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from library copy.