Middle-of-the-road farm fare.



Turns out he was following more than just the chickens….

Donkey politely but urgently wakes the farmer, a white man in pig-adorned pajamas, at 5:05 a.m. to tell him the pigs have escaped and are headed to town. The farmer doesn’t believe his donkey. An hour later, Donkey wakes the farmer again to tell him the cow has escaped—and so have the sheep. While the farmer’s making coffee at 6:25, Donkey tells him the chickens and the goats are gone too…turns out the fair is on, and every animal is headed there. The man and his ass get on the tractor (the goats drove off in the truck) and head out to capture the contrary critters. After the roundup, the farmer wonders how this could have happened. Donkey says, “I believe you left the barn door open, Sir.” James’ debut farm fable is told entirely in pictures and dialogue. Alternating between Donkey and the farmer’s conversation, laid out on full- and double-page spreads in green and red type, respectively, is the speech-balloon dialogue of the runaway animals, drawn in comic-style panels that depict them on the way to and having fun at the fair. Herrod’s stubby-legged, pudgy, happy farm animals are pretty funny riding the roller coaster, going down a water slide, zooming on a zip line. The low-key humor—particularly the uber-serious Donkey’s deadpan politeness—and simple story are enjoyable, but, frustratingly, the tale never takes advantage of the joke its title riffs on.

Middle-of-the-road farm fare. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58536-963-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

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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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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