A fun story for all the kids who think their teachers live at school, because where else would they live?


Well-meaning nature buff Miranda has a bad case of overgeneralizing.

Miranda Montgomery adores the Nature Joe Animal Show, admiring the way the brown-skinned wildlife expert rescues wild animals who are lost or in distress and returns them to their natural habitats. With her Nature Joe polo shirt and green shorts on and her brown billowing hair, Miranda enters the grocery store to find her teacher, Mrs. Birdley, far from her natural habitat: school. She makes several failed attempts to capture the wily Mrs. Birdley—who is oblivious—but an oversized trash can finally brings her the success she has witnessed Nature Joe accomplish with lions, lemurs, weasels, and more. With Mrs. Birdley locked safely away in her classroom for the weekend, Miranda walks home confident…until the next day, when she spots yet another adult from school browsing wares in the home-improvement store. From this book’s bright green cover to its lively endpapers, readers feel Miranda’s assurance that her task is just as important (and as right) as Nature Joe’s. Despite Miranda’s suburban locale, every few pages her imagination overtakes the scene and overlays it with an all-green habitat where she becomes the rescuer. Her facial expressions aptly convey surprise and disappointment when her traps don’t work as well as Nature Joe’s, but when she succeeds, her confidence is palpable. Both Miranda and Mrs. Birdley have light-brown skin.

A fun story for all the kids who think their teachers live at school, because where else would they live? (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2704-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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Hee haw.

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The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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