“Imagine a town, in a country, where a simple thing like an Elephant had never been seen, or even heard of . . .” Husband-and-wife collaborators Robinson and Windham do just that in this thoroughly modern tale steeped in Old World tradition. A mix between The Blind Men and the Elephant and The Boy Who Cried Wolf, the story centers on the attempts by the village innocents to name the animal. The elephant’s enormous size leads the Train Driver to believe he’s a railway engine; the Fireman mistakes the creature’s nose for a hose; and the Dustman declares him a vacuum cleaner. Rendered in dusky country hues, Windham’s humorous vignettes picture the possibilities. A sketch of the elephant inflated (“He is a modern type of refuse collecting machine) is especially amusing. Only Eric (“a little boy who was seven and three quarters and known locally for telling Tall Stories”) knows the truth. Trouble is, no one will listen. When the townspeople send the Elephant to be examined by the Professor, Eric goes along for the ride. Here, banners frame the page. One shows a scientific diagram of the elephant; Bunsen burners, beakers, and test tubes make up the other. Turns out, naming the elephant is a test for the professor too; it’s only with Eric’s help that he remembers the word. Robinson’s droll narrative—which draws on time-honored tales to create an altogether fresh text—is perfectly balanced by Windham’s whimsical illustrations. This one’s a good bet for read-aloud fun; older audiences will likely appreciate Robinson’s skillful yarn-spinning. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-58234-769-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002



A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies.

Pigeon finds something better to drive than some old bus.

This time it’s Santa delivering the fateful titular words, and with a “Ho. Ho. Whoa!” the badgering begins: “C’mon! Where’s your holiday spirit? It would be a Christmas MIRACLE! Don’t you want to be part of a Christmas miracle…?” Pigeon is determined: “I can do Santa stuff!” Like wrapping gifts (though the accompanying illustration shows a rather untidy present), delivering them (the image of Pigeon attempting to get an oversize sack down a chimney will have little ones giggling), and eating plenty of cookies. Alas, as Willems’ legion of young fans will gleefully predict, not even Pigeon’s by-now well-honed persuasive powers (“I CAN BE JOLLY!”) will budge the sleigh’s large and stinky reindeer guardian. “BAH. Also humbug.” In the typically minimalist art, the frustrated feathered one sports a floppily expressive green and red elf hat for this seasonal addition to the series—but then discards it at the end for, uh oh, a pair of bunny ears. What could Pigeon have in mind now? “Egg delivery, anyone?”

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781454952770

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023


Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

Close Quickview