Something light for a new-baby gift or child embarking on a journey.



A poem celebrates family philosophies and affection for the young.

Eight four-line stanzas accompanied by stylized illustrations of animal parents and babies make up this hortatory collection of happy thoughts. At the opening, a bighorn ram, ewe, and lamb ascend a steep incline (“We believe in climbing higher”), a mole and baby kiss (“We believe in digging deep”), bright yellow flowers bloom (“We believe in drinking sunshine”), and a sloth snuggles with its baby (“We believe in beauty sleep”). The “we” voice of encouragement and cheerleading continues throughout. From tadpoles to lions, Idle’s big-eyed, pretty animals are all recognizable in warm pastel colors and rounded forms. “We believe in families” appears with a pair of rabbits and a multihued collection of bunnies. Even the jellyfish has babies (“We believe in shining light”). Some lines are more opaque than others: A family of brown bears eating honey that drips, improbably, from a paper-wasp nest illustrates the lines “We believe that groups are smart / We believe in smacks of sweetness.” A family of dotted rays swims across the double-page spread that follows: “We believe we’re works of art.” A monarch caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly appear in the last few pages (“We believe that life’s a journey”) before readers see that the bighorn sheep family has reached the summit: “We believe in you.” (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 30.3% of actual size.)

Something light for a new-baby gift or child embarking on a journey. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-31200-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.


Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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