An engaging work that offers its young target audience a healthy tool for responding to emotionally challenging predicaments.




When a squirrel cries over her lost hoard of acorns, she eventually lessens her disappointment by adjusting her attitude in this picture book.

Squirrel has an armful of acorns and couldn’t be happier until she trips and her booty drops into a rushing stream. She promptly bursts into tears. What will make her feel better? Prolific author Roman (If You Were Me and Lived in…Israel, 2016, etc.) provides the answer. Here, Squirrel’s mishap provides a lesson in putting difficult situations into perspective, thanks to Rabbit, who suggests that she view her loss through a 1-to-10 rating system, with 10 “being the worst thing ever.” Before Squirrel finds her silver lining, examples of how the system works in practice multiply: Froggy rates his F on a math test as an 8 on the sadness scale but drops it to a 6 when he remembers that he turned in extra credit afterward and earned a gold star. Squirrel and friends are reminded that a rained-out ballgame turned into fun puddle play; Foxy’s embarrassing slip on the ice inspired him to take skating lessons and excel. Roman doesn’t shrink from delivering a more profound example: the death of Squirrel’s Hammy the Hamster, Rabbit says, remains a 10 because “it doesn’t get much worse than this.” On the downside, finding the positives in Deer’s parents’ separation (less tension at home; a finite adjustment period) is simply too facile to be convincing. And it would be helpful to add reassurance in the text that this coping tool doesn’t discount the validity of children’s emotional responses. Visually, the book is a treat. Arkova’s (If You Were Me and Lived in…Viking Europe, 2016, etc.) illustrations—alternately stretching across two pages and appearing as multiple panels on a single page—beguile, with whimsical characters and a woodland setting alive with supple lines and a bright and varied palette.

An engaging work that offers its young target audience a healthy tool for responding to emotionally challenging predicaments.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5395-9066-8

Page Count: 38

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2017

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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

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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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