Charming, upbeat quirkiness.



A white-coated mouse opens his barn-cum-office daily to a variety of equally anthropomorphic animals—all of whom benefit from the good doctor’s unconventional methods.

On the first verso, readers see the diminutive doctor pushing open the doors of his large red barn while the text on the stark-white recto explains his routine, which includes hanging his sign: “Consultations from sunrise to sunset.” He then seats himself on three cushions piled up on a chair and begins munching his breakfast cheese. Despite the annoyed clucks of his first patient—Ms. Chicken—Dr. Mouse insists on waiting for his visitor chairs to fill up before beginning examinations. The strategy is clearly successful; Dr. Mouse facilitates healing, whether medical or psychological, for each animal—and each therapy conveniently comes from another patient. (Mr. Fox, who enters late, denies an illness but acquires a needed snack—not, happily, a fellow patient—and just happens to have spectacles in his backpack for Ms. Owl.) The comedy lies in the detailed, cheerful, and painterly illustrations as well as the funny, often surprising, conversations. Even the youngest readers will giggle at the diet of Mr. Bear, whose complaint is a hurting stomach: cream cake for breakfast, lunch, and supper. His cure will come from Ms. Rabbit, and he in turn sweetly outlines a plan to help her overcome shyness. The ending is a funny revelation.

Charming, upbeat quirkiness. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4410-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.


Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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