Winner of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2010 Opera Prima Mention, this design exercise is notable. But while...


The differences among three animals—a dog, cat and bird—are explored in this sophisticated concept book that replaces character drawings with text representations.

Appealing, Modernist illustrations create lovely vignettes for the protagonists, who are depicted by the sounds they make. Each animal is assigned a specific typeface, the size, color and placement of which are altered to emphasize the various traits and emotions of its owner. In a cage, the bird’s “tweet-tweet” is small and controlled, but when he's free, his “tweet-tweet” runs broad and askew, soaring across the sky. Despite these text modifications, young readers may find it difficult to be continuously drawn to the personality or expressiveness of each character. Boyer tries to make up the difference with some playful potty jokes: "WOOF" tilts up against a brick wall, a trail of piddle coming from the "F." These may not be enough for the animal lover, who would prefer to see the majesty of an actual bird’s wings in flight. However, the artwork is attractive. Flat shapes done in a sophisticated, Pantone-catalog palette lend to Boyer’s hip and minimalist aesthetic. Her excellent graphic sensibility makes each spread worthy of a single print advertisement.

Winner of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2010 Opera Prima Mention, this design exercise is notable. But while intellectuals and college design students may find it brilliant, children may not find it particularly gratifying. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-934734-60-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Seven Footer Press

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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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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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...


A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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