Quaint but doesn’t leave you wanting seconds.


Books can be life-changing, contemplative, and...delicious?

Leopold, a bespectacled, white-furred goat, loves warm sweaters and books. Books transport him out of his own life through his imagination and help him discover new worlds and adventures. Leopold loves books so much that he owns a bookstore and spends his days suggesting books to a racially diverse group of customers—it gives “him such a pleasant feeling, like introducing someone to a friend.” Leopold is tested, however, when a gray-furred goat requests a book…for ingesting. Acknowledging his faux pas, the unnamed goat allows Leopold to guide his book-selection adventure, with disastrous (but fibrous?) results. Thankfully, Leopold’s wife, a brown-furred goat, reminds her husband that he was once like this tricky customer, motivating Leopold to suggest the title that helped him discover that books were for more than just a light snack. The plotting is droll, and the illustrations—done in gouache and rendered digitally—are amusing in a vaguely Wes Anderson style, but the story feels heavily preached toward the choir. The denouement happens suddenly, which may leave readers wishing to learn more about the gray-furred goat’s literary journey (and name) and less about Leopold’s life. It’s a fine story but one that may not appeal to the gray-furred goats of the world. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Quaint but doesn’t leave you wanting seconds. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1496-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Walker US/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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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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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...


Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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