Happy-go-lucky fun with words, collage, and a smattering of facts about bugs.



Each of over 25 different “bugs” receives its own short, titled, whimsical poem, an accompanying collage, and a few sentences of factual information.

Almost every insect or arachnid commonly known to most Americans is included in this lighthearted treasury. Each poem highlights some aspect of its subject, whether its appearance, its behavior, or, as in the cockroach, its reputation: “I am not loved, not loved at all. / I’m not like any other. / But surely someone cares for me. / I think it is my MOTHER.” Although facts about the cockroach accompanying the poem and in the endnotes give some reasons to like the creature, it is odd that, after mentioning its association with “poor housekeeping,” there is no mention of the bug’s actually obsessive cleanliness. In general, the poems are clever and humorous, and most of the rhythmic ones scan well. Some use elementary wordplay in the titles, as in “Par-tick-u-lar-ly Awesome” and “Mite-y Nice Advice.” The fly poem is no match for the one by Ogden Nash, but “Grasshopper Green” rivals limericks by Edward Lear. Sweet’s dependably eye-catching illustrations—infused with humor here—are an appropriate match. Care was given to balancing gender among those poems that use pronouns, and there is, incidentally, a note devoted to the fact that female ladybugs are nearly indistinguishable from male ladybugs.

Happy-go-lucky fun with words, collage, and a smattering of facts about bugs. (Picture book/poetry. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9818-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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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. 28, 2018

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Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look...


Winning actually isn’t everything, as jazz-happy Rooster learns when he goes up against the legendary likes of Mules Davis and Ella Finchgerald at the barnyard talent show.

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look good—particularly after his “ ‘Hen from Ipanema’ [makes] / the barnyard chickies swoon.”—but in the end the competition is just too stiff. No matter: A compliment from cool Mules and the conviction that he still has the world’s best band soon puts the strut back in his stride. Alexander’s versifying isn’t always in tune (“So, he went to see his cousin, / a pianist of great fame…”), and despite his moniker Rooster plays an electric bass in Bower’s canted country scenes. Children are unlikely to get most of the jokes liberally sprinkled through the text, of course, so the adults sharing it with them should be ready to consult the backmatter, which consists of closing notes on jazz’s instruments, history and best-known musicians.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58536-688-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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