Humorous, engaging illustrations support a slight but amusing tale.


The members of the Farmer family keep blaming their problems on their goat.

When the goat escapes from his pen, he gets into mischief—but is it he who tramples Mrs. Farmer’s petunias? Did the goat eat Andrew’s homework? Did he really knock over the paint can? Eat all the cupcakes for Archer’s birthday party? And how about the gum on Mr. Farmer’s seat? Mr. Farmer correctly observes that “Goats don’t chew gum.” Andrew retorts: “Escape Goat does.” It takes honest Nicolette to finally get to the truth. She has to shout: “You’re punishing the goat for things he didn’t do.” The other family members don’t want to admit their own foibles, but in a slapstick scene Andrew throws a ball that hits the water pitcher carried by Mrs. Farmer; the water spills onto Uncle Nathan, who’s carrying a basket of muffins; the muffins are hurled at Mr. Farmer who drops a huge salad. In the midst of this great ado, Nicolette sensibly points out the goat grazing nearby and says: “The goat didn’t do anything.” The story itself lacks real substance and the wordplay on “scapegoat” will almost certainly elude young readers, but they will get the visual jokes, made evident in Glasser’s exuberant ink-and-watercolor cartoons. The humans (white-presenting save Archer, who has beige skin), the animals, and the farm itself are delightfully represented.

Humorous, engaging illustrations support a slight but amusing tale. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-288339-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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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Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development.


From the McKellar Math series

A child who insists on having MORE of everything gets MORE than she can handle.

Demanding young Moxie Jo is delighted to discover that pushing the button on a stick she finds in the yard doubles anything she points to. Unfortunately, when she points to her puppy, Max, the button gets stuck—and in no time one dog has become two, then four, then eight, then….Readers familiar with the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” or Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona will know how this is going to go, and Masse obliges by filling up succeeding scenes with burgeoning hordes of cute yellow puppies enthusiastically making a shambles of the house. McKellar puts an arithmetical spin on the crisis—“The number of pups exponentially grew: / They each multiplied times a factor of 2!” When clumsy little brother Clark inadvertently intervenes, Moxie Jo is left wiser about her real needs (mostly). An appended section uses lemons to show how exponential doubling quickly leads to really big numbers. Stuart J. Murphy’s Double the Ducks (illustrated by Valeria Petrone, 2002) in the MathStart series explores doubling from a broader perspective and includes more backmatter to encourage further study, but this outing adds some messaging: Moxie Jo’s change of perspective may give children with sharing issues food for thought. She and her family are White; her friends are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-101-93386-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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