The few giggles from the illustrations don’t make this more than a pork-barrel project.



An origin story for the Superpigs looks a lot like one many readers will be familiar with.

“Once upon a time, there were three little pigs. They dreamed of becoming SUPERHEROES! In fact,” readers are told, “they were so obsessed that their family house became cluttered with all of their superhero” paraphernalia. Evidently fed up with the mess, their mother sends them off into the world to find homes of their own, and after hours of travel, they arrive in Fairyland. Signs on trees warn of a wolf, and their new friend Little Red Riding Hood tells them stories of stolen sheep and stolen granny nighties. The pigs build their houses (you know the ones). Along comes the wolf and chinny-chin-chin rebuffs and huffing and puffing…it all leads to the inevitable two flat houses and one scalded, captured wolf. All of Fairyland declares them the “THREE LITTLE SUPERPIGS”—and the pigs get their wish. Evans’ unnecessary prequel to her cheeky, fractured original (2018) is a head-scratcher. Part of the charm of her first was that it picked up where the traditional tale left off. Why return to the source material with a rote retelling of the tale that a great many in her audience already know? Yes, this has a superhero twist, but that simply rehashes the first Superpig outing.

The few giggles from the illustrations don’t make this more than a pork-barrel project. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-24548-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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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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