Like Poochie-Blue, visitors to the valley will be in no hurry to leave.


A mix of comical vignettes and broad vistas illustrates an account of the lives and misadventures of a clan of tiny Twims.

It must have been a challenge to translate: the oversized album, originally published in French in 1998, is narrated by Poochie-Blue—who introduces Sowhatty, Nothin’-Doin’, and many like-named members of a teeming extended family as the book opens. He then takes readers on a tour of his hollow cliffside House Tree, the Forest of Lost Children, the Theater of Hissy Fits (where grievances can be acted out), and the cemetery gardens especially tailored for lovers of music or mountains, for haters, readers, or Twims just “waiting for the Goochnies to return.” In between, he tells of the mushroomlike Goochnies’ mysterious disappearance, of children who fell from the sky (actually from a passing windblown apartment house), of a Sad Giant’s visit, and of weather and seasons in the idyllic seaside valley. Along with a labeled area map and a cutaway of the House Tree, Ponti alternates panels of Twims, who look like anthropomorphic lemmings (uniform in color but a little varied in features and dress), in action with immersive, full-page or larger land- and seascapes that seem to go on forever while offering multitudinous crags, glades and foreground features to investigate.

Like Poochie-Blue, visitors to the valley will be in no hurry to leave. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-914671-62-6

Page Count: 42

Publisher: Elsewhere Editions

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.


Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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