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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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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