Delightfully imparts the joy and discovery of reading—and many chuckles and guffaws.


Lemmings don’t jump off cliffs; someone just needs to tell the lemmings.

Foxy, a crew member aboard the aptly named S.S. Cliff (a container ship that happens to be a whale), reads a fascinating book about lemmings. The book says that lemmings do not jump off cliffs. But when Foxy relates this tidbit to Capt. PB (presumably short for “Polar Bear”), three stubby little lemmings hear the word “jump” and gleefully throw themselves overboard. “Jump? I’ll jump!” / “Me too!” / “Ditto!” Foxy fishes them out and urges them to read the book so they can see for themselves that lemmings do not jump off cliffs. “Jump? I’ll jump!” / “Me too!” / “Ditto!” Off they go, over the side. “I don’t think they read the book,” Capt. PB says ruefully. After a few more foolish leaps, each one more perilous than the next (“Sinking! Sinking fast!” / “Me too!” / “Glub!”), Foxy realizes the lemmings cannot read. He works with them until they can all comprehend the most important words in the book: “Lemmings DON’T jump off cliffs,” (earning a thumbs-up from curmudgeon Capt. PB). OHora applies his customary matte paints to his Arctic Ocean scenes, peach skies, teal seas, and white icebergs dominating the backgrounds. Foxy and Capt. PB make convincing if fuzzy tars, the lemmings look like tribbles with faces and stubby little legs, and it’s nice to see a real working vessel in a picture book.

Delightfully imparts the joy and discovery of reading—and many chuckles and guffaws. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-34348-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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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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Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...


It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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