By the end students will either be dreading or looking forward to their own tadpole studies.


The opening and closing life-cycle endpapers differ in only one small way, but it makes all the difference to a class that must deal with the fallout of their teacher’s love for a class pet.

Mr. Stricter is excited on the day the science project hatches: “I always wanted a pet.” The class can keep just one tadpole, releasing the rest back “into the wild.” They choose Bruno. But observant readers will notice that Bruno displays some key differences from the other tadpoles, differences that grow and grow as the days pass. The students quickly see that Bruno is a menace—breaking furniture, eating supplies, and snoring and farting at inopportune times—but love is blind for Mr. Stricter. That is until he gets a much closer view of his new pet. An internal one. His quick-thinking students save the day, and Bruno joins the tadpoles in the wild. But what about the next science project that hatches? No worries. A trip to the pet store satisfies everyone. The palette of mustard yellow, avocado green, turquoise, red, and bright orange gives the illustrations a retro look that is reinforced by Mr. Stricter’s cardigan, bow tie, and high-top sneakers, though he also has a laptop. Mr. Stricter is white, but OHora’s students are notably diverse, his palette also leading to interesting skin and hair colors.

By the end students will either be dreading or looking forward to their own tadpole studies. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-4364-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.


Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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