‘Laugh­ing grand­mother’ video makes ‘The Wonky Don­key’ pic­ture book a big hit

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - By Hil­lel Italie

NEW YORK >> The coun­try’s hottest book isn’t a hit be­cause of Oprah Win­frey or Don­ald Trump. It’s all be­cause of a laugh­ing Scot­tish grand­mother.

Thanks to a vi­ral video of Jan­ice Clark read­ing Craig Smith’s “The Wonky Don­key” to her baby grand­son, and her breath­less amuse­ment over lines such as “He was a honky-tonky winky wonky don­key,” the 2009 pic­ture book about a three­legged, one-eyed don­key has sold more than 100,000 copies in the United States this fall, much of that in the past week. Ac­cord­ing to NPD BookScan, which tracks around 85 per­cent of the print mar­ket, “Wonky Don­key” topped all re­leases with more than 90,000 copies sold last week, beat­ing out Bob Wood­ward’s “Fear” and Rachel Hol­lis’ “Girl, Wash Your Face,” among oth­ers.

“You can’t ask for a bet­ter en­dorse­ment of your creation than when the per­son read­ing your book is hav­ing a bet­ter time than the child be­ing read to. Jan­ice’s in­fec­tious laugh­ter was an ab­so­lute de­light!” wrote Smith, a New Zealand-based mu­si­cian and au­thor, in a re­cent email. “Re­mem­ber, this vi­ral sen­sa­tion came about be­cause a grand­mother read a BOOK to her grand­son, al­beit a very spe­cial grand­mother.”

“The Wonky Don­key,” fea­tur­ing il­lus­tra­tions by Katz Cow­ley, had al­ready sold hun­dreds of thou­sands of copies in New Zealand and Aus­tralia. But un­til re­cently it had a much smaller au­di­ence in the United States. Ac­cord­ing to Scholas­tic, the book had sold about 75,000 copies and was out of print be­fore the video caught on last month.

“Be­fore this fall, if you event at Barnes & Noble.

On his web­site, craig­smith.co.nz, Smith iden­ti­fies him­self as a cre­ator of “cruisy, easy lis­ten­ing, chil­dren’s and some­times hu­mor­ous acous­tic mu­sic.” He has re­leased nu­mer­ous books and records, in­clud­ing pic­ture sto­ries such as “The Driz­zly Bear” and “The Scari­est Thing in the Gar­den.”


had said ‘Wonky Don­key’ in my store, no one would have known what you were talk­ing about,” said Linda Devlin, owner of Linda’s Story Time in Mon­roe, Con­necti­cut. “Now, it just sells and sells. Peo­ple see it and say, ‘Oh, I have to get that for my grand­chil­dren.’”Scholas­tic an­nounced Fri­day that it had or­dered an­other 600,000 copies. Mean­while, Clark is com­ing to New York in Novem­ber for an This cover im­age re­leased by Scholas­tic shows “The Wonky Don­key” by Craig Smith and il­lus­trated by Katz Cowly. The 2009 pic­ture story has been out-sell­ing Bob Wood­ward’s “Fear” and Rachel Hol­lis’ “Girl, Wash Your Face” among oth­ers, thanks to a vi­ral video of Scot­tish grand­mother Jan­ice Clark read­ing Craig Smith’s “The Wonky Don­key” to her grand­son.

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