A sweetly loopy look at domestic travails filtered through a wickedly subversive lens.


Bringing home the bacon (or, in this case, the fish) is not as simple as it may seem.

The title of this wordless continuation of The Chicken Thief (2010) is something of a misnomer, as Hen spends much of this eventful day apart from Fox. The connubial bliss of Hen and Fox is marred by an empty refrigerator, so Hen kisses her egg goodbye and leaves it in the care of Fox while she and friend Crab head out for a day of fishing. She lands a big one in short order, but an equally short order it is snaggled by a giant bird that flies off with fish, Hen (clinging to the rod) and Crab (clinging to Hen's tail feathers). Comical misadventures ensue, all laid out in super-wide-screen format with Rodriguez’s characteristic fine line and sense of absurdity. This story does not present the same emotional nuance of its predecessor, but children will get plenty of giggles watching Hen and Crab fend off giant, ravenous hatchlings and battle a sea serpent. The complexity comes when Hen opens the door to see a cracked egg shell and a skillet on the table; about to bop Fox with said skillet, she holds herself back when she sees him cuddling an adorable fox-hen baby.

A sweetly loopy look at domestic travails filtered through a wickedly subversive lens. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59270-109-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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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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A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity.


From the Fly Guy series

Buzz and his buzzy buddy open a spinoff series of nonfiction early readers with an aquarium visit.

Buzz: “Like other fish, sharks breathe through gills.” Fly Guy: “GILLZZ.” Thus do the two pop-eyed cartoon tour guides squire readers past a plethora of cramped but carefully labeled color photos depicting dozens of kinds of sharks in watery settings, along with close-ups of skin, teeth and other anatomical features. In the bite-sized blocks of narrative text, challenging vocabulary words like “carnivores” and “luminescence” come with pronunciation guides and lucid in-context definitions. Despite all the flashes of dentifrice and references to prey and smelling blood in the water, there is no actual gore or chowing down on display. Sharks are “so cool!” proclaims Buzz at last, striding out of the gift shop. “I can’t wait for our next field trip!” (That will be Fly Guy Presents: Space, scheduled for September 2013.)

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity. (Informational easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-50771-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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