A sensitive arc depicts a journey from alienation to connection.


A dramatic and remarkably unkind pet departs, leaving a child and parent room to become closer.

When Jack stays at Dad’s house, they sometimes talk and make tacos and milkshakes. But their kitchen table is long, and they sit apart, neither animated nor chatty. Dad has stopped telling jokes, and his son’s concerned: “Jack couldn’t be there all the time. The house was so quiet. He wondered if his dad was lonely. Jack knew what that felt like.” Distance sits inaudibly between them. Then, Jack arrives one Tuesday night to find that a parrot—found on the doorstep after a storm—suddenly lives with them. Jimmy is bright green, boisterous, and mocking, even stealing Jack’s underwear. Jack’s intimidated and meekly jealous—but Dad, oblivious, finds Jimmy funny and “amazing.” In a wondrous two-spread climax, hurt feelings take physical form: Jack’s darkened bedroom fills with multitudinous parrots of many colors, all staring straight at him. Desperate, he opens the window and they all fly out. “Then morning arrived”—and three dropped green feathers show that Jimmy went too. Walker’s artwork is delicate and understated; gentle precision gives a light touch to everything from facial expressions to chairs, shoes, and headphones. When Dad makes the change that’s necessary for emotional intimacy, dialogue is spare and simple, and all the more satisfying for it. Jack and Dad appear White.

A sensitive arc depicts a journey from alienation to connection. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-19358-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 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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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.


All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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