A nice addition to the “growing up” books that not only deals with an obstacle to overcome, but features a main character...



Spinelli and Lloyd celebrate the self-confidence that arises from a child’s achieving the milestones of growth, including the ups and downs of riding a bike sans training wheels.

With a little bunny narrating, the first half of the book focuses on all the things he can do now that he is a big boy. From getting dressed and doing chores to feats of skill on the playground and being kind, he certainly does seem to be maturing. And parents are sure to appreciate the things Spinelli highlights: cleaning up after himself, pitching in and especially putting others first—his guest gets the first turn, he is a good sport and he shares with his little sister. The second half of the book describes the bunny’s bumpy road to learning to ride a two-wheeler. He starts off well enough, but a wobble leads to a fall and some skinned appendages. A pep talk from Mom soothes his bruised self-confidence, while some practice helps him to success. Created with scratchboard and a spring palette of watercolors, Lloyd’s bunny characters are exuberant and upbeat. And while their range of emotions is rather limited (the bunny smiles even when washing dishes and making his bed), they successfully convey both pride and self-confidence.

A nice addition to the “growing up” books that not only deals with an obstacle to overcome, but features a main character that is slightly older than most in this genre. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-008673-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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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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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.


A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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