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 14, 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. 28, 2018

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Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look...


Winning actually isn’t everything, as jazz-happy Rooster learns when he goes up against the legendary likes of Mules Davis and Ella Finchgerald at the barnyard talent show.

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look good—particularly after his “ ‘Hen from Ipanema’ [makes] / the barnyard chickies swoon.”—but in the end the competition is just too stiff. No matter: A compliment from cool Mules and the conviction that he still has the world’s best band soon puts the strut back in his stride. Alexander’s versifying isn’t always in tune (“So, he went to see his cousin, / a pianist of great fame…”), and despite his moniker Rooster plays an electric bass in Bower’s canted country scenes. Children are unlikely to get most of the jokes liberally sprinkled through the text, of course, so the adults sharing it with them should be ready to consult the backmatter, which consists of closing notes on jazz’s instruments, history and best-known musicians.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58536-688-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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