Chris Conover (Adventures of Simple Simon, 1989) sets her lavish tale in an empire of cats. King Leo Golden Mane has coffers of gold but since he can't read or write, he rules his kingdom with the sound of his roar. King Leo is bothered by a rumor that another ruler, King Otto of the North, has a palace lined with unnamed treasure greater than his own. When Prince Leo II is born, King Leo considers it a blessing that the lion cub has wings. One day Prince Leo II is swept into the air as a breeze lifts him and he finds himself airborne. But, because the Prince does not yet know how to fly, he crash lands in a tree. It's an auspicious crash, for Prince Leo has landed in front of King Otto's palace. Otto cares for Leo who soon discovers that the treasures lining Otto's walls are called books and inside each one is a wondrous tale. When Prince Leo II at last returns home he brings with him the great gifts of reading and wisdom. The artwork is sumptuous, rendered with shade and tone that balances the use of radiant colors. Conover draws the feline characters with affection, accuracy, and astonishing detail. Even the endpapers are decorated with an intricately illustrated alphabet game. In this glorious oversized picture book Conover imparts a persuasive message in the guise of a fairytale of classic grandeur. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 10, 2000

ISBN: 0-374-39974-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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

Did you like this book?


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet