A sadly run-of-the-mill effort from such a name as McPhail.



Crash is a feline wrecking crew!

Krissie and Kait love their puffy kitty, Crash. They named him Crash because he runs in to everything! Kate’s drum set? CRASH! Krissie’s doll? CRASH! Mom’s birthday cake? CRASH! Dad’s can of paint? CRASH! When he smashes through the girls’ farmland play set, they are finally worried enough to take him to the veterinarian. Maybe he is sick or in need of some glasses. The vet gives him a clean bill of health…but as soon as Crash is home, he plows through a load of clean laundry that has to be washed again. However, the girls love him, and he tolerates their dressing him up and dragging him about the house. Late one night he’s not in his bed, and a crash draws the entire family downstairs. Crash is chasing a mouse around the kitchen, cornering it in a boot. Crash has redeemed himself in the eyes of his humans. In this kitty-cat version of McPhail’s own Bad Dog (2014), the prolific creator bases the tale on his granddaughters and their cat. As a tale of childhood devotion to a pet it works well, but McPhail’s watercolor-and-ink illustrations are not up to his usual standards. Pudgy, fluffy Crash often looks more canine than feline, and Crash’s redemption is too facile. Crash’s family is white, and the vet is black.

A sadly run-of-the-mill effort from such a name as McPhail. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3649-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...


Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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