A fresh and charming narrative reminiscent of the tall-tale storytelling tradition with illustrations that are its ideal...



Ralph, an intrepid dog in Williams Harbour, Labrador, has an adventure with a helicopter.

Paddon’s lively yarn, which he insists is true, nonetheless has tall-tale potential not just in its subject matter, but also in its delivery, which has a rhyming, singsong cadence reminiscent of ages-old oral storytelling. Rhyming narratives can be tricky to pull off—often falling into the cutesy crevasse—but this one is freshly exuberant and absolutely needs to be read aloud for full effect. Greg, a white helicopter bush pilot, hates landing in Williams Harbour because a pack of dogs—Ralph, Spot 1, Spot 2, Lucky, and Nance—all jump around the chopper, and Greg is fearful they will damage it. One day, seeing his chance, Greg uses the chopper to herd four of the dogs off a small 10-foot cliff into the sea (where they safely swim to shore). But where is Ralph, the fifth dog? Ah, where indeed—this is the crux of the story. Kolano’s crisp illustrations capture the spareness of the isolated Canadian town in both her sophisticated use of a limited palette of blues, blacks, and orange and in her angular, clean style, which gives the story a needed visual edge to balance the ebullient curviness of the narrative rhyme.

A fresh and charming narrative reminiscent of the tall-tale storytelling tradition with illustrations that are its ideal complement. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-927917-08-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Running the Goat

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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 lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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