Each friend finds what he or she is looking for by traveling, including the fact that there is no place quite as sweet as...



From the Sprout Street Neighbors series , Vol. 3

Mili and her Sprout Street friends go to Paris.

When Mili’s life seems dull, she takes inspiration from a print of the Mona Lisa, which she then shows to her animal friends, who jump at the chance to visit Paris. However, as the time for the big trip draws near and then arrives, each friend feels anxious about the upcoming adventure. Henry is afraid he will miss all his books and home possessions. Emma’s overfull luggage bursts, leaving her nothing to rely on but Mili’s thoughtfulness. Fernando’s concerns about the language barrier threaten his enjoyment of the trip. And Wilbur worries about leaving his beloved garden. All the travelers cope with their fears and love seeing the Mona Lisa and the wonders of the Louvre, although Mili feels overwhelmed by her empty sketchbook. How will she ever be like the artists she sees in the museum? Adult animals taking a trip to France may seem like an unlikely topic for a children’s book, but Alter’s little menagerie displays a familiar constellation of anxieties for readers who are facing change, and the ways they manage those fears are instructive. Gentle black and white sketches adorn most spreads, making this little gem accessible to transitioning readers.

Each friend finds what he or she is looking for by traveling, including the fact that there is no place quite as sweet as home, in this sympathetic tale. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-0053-9

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Yearling/Random

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.


A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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