An easily applicable allegory full of dreamy bigheartedness.



Winter is closing in, and one selfish soul is not opening his door to those in need of shelter.

In a very timely story about sanctuary, a hedgehog with a significant piece of hedgescape is unwilling to share his acreage with others looking for protection against winter’s icy blasts. The bees and the ladybugs are sharing the hive (depicted inaccurately as a wasps’ nest); the birds and the squirrels are sharing the tree; and even the unlikely pairing of the fox and the possum are sharing a burrow (though maybe the fox has ulterior motives not mentioned here). But all those who ask the hedgehog to share his grand greenery get the bum’s rush: “No! This is MY hedge.” Indeed, so many come to ask for a little space and the hedgehog has to slam the door so many times that the last slam crumbles the hedgehog’s hedge abode to pieces. Now who has to go begging? Fortunately the other creatures—drawn in fine, emotive cartoon mode by Anstee—are blessed with a natural decency that offers not only sanctuary, but a great array of diversity, from grasshoppers to bunnies to, yup, a hedgehog. A bit obvious in its message, but in these ham-handed times, very au courant.

An easily applicable allegory full of dreamy bigheartedness. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77049-991-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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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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