Crankee Doodle

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Crankee Doodle Book Poster Image
Yankee Doodle refuses to go town in silly takeoff.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers who don't know the Yankee Doodle ditty can be reminded of the way it goes. Parents can explain what a Yankee is. 

Positive Messages

Yankee is shown to be ridiculously negative, so the underlying message is lighten up, stop complaining, and go along with your friend because it's more fun than being alone and you might have a good time.   

Positive Role Models & Representations

Pony is calm, rational, and patient, while Yankee whines, complains, and throws a tantrum. Pony also has the courage to stand up for himself when the Yankee insults him, showing he has feelings, too.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Crankee Doodle, by Origami Yoda author Tom Angleberger, is a very silly, very funny takeoff on the traditional childhood nonsense ditty "Yankee Doodle." The twist is that Yankee doesn't want to go to town and is outraged at Pony's suggestion that he should. The delight is in dynamic between the two contrasting characters and in seeing a self-absorbed angry person come around, calm down, and think of someone else's feelings. It's also amusing that that someone is a talking horse. 


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What's the story?

Yankee Doodle is bored, and so his pony suggests, "We could go to town." But the Yankee responds, "Town? No way. I hate going to town," and launches into a nonstop rant, shouting down all Pony's suggestions ("We could go shopping ... You could buy a feather for your hat! .. You could call it macaroni") and works himself up into a tantrum. But when Pony finally shows he has feelings, too (after Yankee insults him), Yankee softens and the two pals zoom off to town together -- in a car, with Pony driving.

Is it any good?

CRANKEE DOODLE is loads of silly fun, and Yankee's long rants about all the things he doesn't like are fun to read aloud with giggle-provoking gusto. Cece Bell's cartoon-like illustrations are big, bright, and perfectly capture the contrast between calm, deadpan Pony and angry, outraged Yankee.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the "Yankee Doodle" song. Did you learn it in school? What makes it fun to sing? Why do you think it's been popular for generations?

  • What's funny about a talking horse?

  • What's funny about seeing somebody get so angry about practically nothing? Have you ever gotten out-of-ontrol angry about a small thing? 

Book details

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