Young readers should sympathize with the compassionate heroine, and perhaps start to feel empathy for others.


Case Two: Big Bully Holly Howler

From the Splunkunio Splunkey Detective and Peacemaker series

An alien detective and his elephant friends return in this second issue-based adventure for grade schoolers, filled with brightly colored photographs of puppet characters.

Ellie Elephant summons Splunkunio Splunkey, her alien friend who is a detective and peacemaker, because there is trouble at school that she doesn’t know how to handle. She explains that a new student is causing problems: “Big Bully Holly Howler. Nobody likes her!” Holly, a purple hippo, is taller than the other puppets: a long-haired zebra named Zena, Ellie and her friend Eli Elephant, a curly-haired lioness, and a pink hoodie-wearing tiger. Holly’s rude, cutting in line and stealing the basketball at recess. She swipes Ellie’s apple for their teacher, and pushes down Zena to take her wagon. Ellie and Eli rattle off a list of Holly’s wrongs, and young readers are likely to think that it’s clear why Holly doesn’t have any friends: she’s just not nice. But Splunkunio refuses to settle for the easy answer. He asks whether Holly acts badly to everyone, and wants to know whether she spends time with other students. When Ellie insists she must have friends somewhere, Splunkunio says, “Not everyone does. Especially people who act like bullies.” The alien urges the friends to treat Holly considerately, even if they continue to dislike her, then vanishes, assuring them they can handle this crisis on their own. Sure enough, when Ellie reaches out to Holly with kindness, everything changes. While this might not be a strategy that works with every bully, the messages in Ashley’s (Splunkunio Splunkey, 2005) tale that generosity can open doors to healing and that loneliness, rather than meanness, can cause kids to lash out remain welcome steps toward empathy. As Ellie learns to look at the world from another’s perspective, young audiences may follow suit. The author’s quirky photographs will either immediately connect with kids or feel too strange to relate to. The puppets are placed in stiff positions, frequently free-standing, sometimes in repeated poses, in a low-background house and a busy schoolroom.

Young readers should sympathize with the compassionate heroine, and perhaps start to feel empathy for others.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4808-2218-4

Page Count: 38

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2016

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The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and...


Inspired by Colombian librarian Luis Soriano Bohórquez, Brown’s latest tells of a little girl whose wish comes true when a librarian and two book-laden burros visit her remote village.

Ana loves to read and spends all of her free time either reading alone or to her younger brother. She knows every word of the one book she owns. Although she uses her imagination to create fantastical bedtime tales for her brother, she really wants new books to read. Everything changes when a traveling librarian and his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, arrive in the village. Besides loaning books to the children until his next visit, the unnamed man also reads them stories and teaches the younger children the alphabet. When Ana suggests that someone write a book about the traveling library, he encourages her to complete this task herself. After she reads her library books, Ana writes her own story for the librarian and gives it to him upon his reappearance—and he makes it part of his biblioburro collection. Parra’s colorful folk-style illustrations of acrylics on board bring Ana’s real and imaginary worlds to life. This is a child-centered complement to Jeanette Winter’s Biblioburro (2010), which focuses on Soriano.

The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and “iii-aah” adding to the fun.   (author’s note, glossary of Spanish terms) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-353-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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This companion piece to the other fairy tales Marcia Brown has interpreted (see Puss In Boots, 1952, p. 548 and others) has the smoothness of a good translation and a unique charm to her feathery light pictures. The pictures have been done in sunset colors and the spreads on each page as they illustrate the story have the cumulative effect of soft cloud banks. Gentle.

Pub Date: June 15, 1954

ISBN: 0684126761

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1954

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