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 sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.


Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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