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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Safe to creep on by.


Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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