In the style of a pourquoi tale, the authors have crafted an explanation about how fireflies came to be. The one-of-a-kind squeegy bug knows he isn’t an ant, cricket, or flea. In fact, he doesn’t know what to call himself. When he meets Buzzer the Bumblebee, who has a stinger in his tail, the squeegy bug decides he would like to be a bee, too. He follows Buzzer’s advice and climbs toward the sky looking for a pair of silver wings like Buzzer’s. Caught in a rainstorm at the top of a cattail, he seeks help from the kindly caterpillar. The two travel to Haunchy the spider’s castle of webs to ask for a pair of wings, which he shapes from threads spun on his spinning wheel. It is Haunchy who points out that the bug isn’t a bumblebee and wasn’t meant to have a stinger. He pulls the brightest star from the sky, hangs it on the bug’s tail, and christens him Squeegy the Firefly, the Lamplighter of the Sky. Originally written when he was an Air Force Sergeant at the end of WWII, Martin’s (Rock It, Sock It, Number Line, p. 1128, etc.) illustrator was his brother Bernard. In this reissue, Corrigan’s illustrations are marvelously detailed, from Haunchy’s elaborate turban and king’s robe, to the acorn lantern of the top-hat-wearing caterpillar. Illustrations aside, it is plain that this was written before Martin really hit his stride with his perfectly cadenced rhymes. However, there will always be an audience for a new Bill Martin Jr., and this one fills the bill. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-890817-90-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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

Did you like this book?