Children who are familiar with the traditional story will find this a fresh, funny alternative.



The traditional story of “The Three Little Pigs” is recast with pug puppies instead of pigs and a malevolent, white cat in the role of the Big, Bad Wolf.

Digitally composed illustrations use photographs of the appealing pugs imposed on illustrated backgrounds, using a contemporary palette of pastel shades and effective use of white space. The Big, Bad Cat accessorizes with magenta 10-gallon hat and boots, and her outsized personality is conveyed both through her ferocious appearance and apt textual descriptions: “What a sight! Sharp, scratchy claws, a terrible twitching tail, and mean beady eyes.” The pugs, Bubbles (straw house), Bandit (stick house), and Beauty (brick house), set off to build their own homes, carrying backpacks of food that entrance the cat. She uses a hair dryer to blow down the straw house, a leaf blower to destroy the house built of sticks, and a huge fan and a jumbo jet to attack the sturdy brick house. The action concludes when the cat’s owner calls her home, followed by the surprise introduction of new additions to the cat’s family home—three familiar pug puppies. The book’s design includes speech balloons and display type integrated into the text for emphasis, as in the curlicue typeface chosen for the cat’s owner’s doting blandishments. The pugs are undeniably appealing with their worried facial expressions, and the cat is crafty and amusing rather than truly scary.

Children who are familiar with the traditional story will find this a fresh, funny alternative. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017


Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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