I Yam A Donkey! (Cece Bell)

Hello, everybody! Today’s book is I Yam A Donkey! by Cece Bell, an absurdist take on grammar and pronunciation.

A none-too-clever donkey proudly proclaims “I YAM a donkey!”, upsetting a nearby grammarian yam, who corrects his pronunciation: “I AM a donkey.” The donkey is delighted: “You is a donkey too?!” And so begins a “Who’s On First”-style comedy of language errors, with the dimwitted donkey struggling to suss out the indignant tuber’s grammar lessons, leading to a darkly comedic ending that spells trouble for pedantic veggie.

Honestly, this was not one of our favorites. While the goofy, colorful illustrations were fun for JJ, and I enjoyed the practical lessons on grammar (though not the overbearing attitude of the yam dispensing them), the story felt a little disjointed and led to a pretty dark ending that basically undercut the entire lesson in accurate grammar and pronunciation. And while conjugation of the differing forms of “to be” is a good lesson, it feels a bit advanced for babies, and the bleak comedy of the ending is almost too advanced for older children as well. It feels like a book that was trying to appeal to multiple audiences but ended up being stretched too thin to be a satisfying read for any of them. Grammar purists might get a laugh out of this one, but otherwise, we can’t give it our stamp of approval.


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