Very little fun and lots of preaching do not make a good story. If the lesson is to give away all your stuff until you have...


Anthropomorphic animals enact something of a frenzy of giving and receiving.

Little Duck is having a fine time splashing in his pool, but his friend Beaver didn’t bring her hat, and now the sun hurts her. Little Duck offers Beaver his nest as a hat. Squirrel is hungry—“I’ve lost my nuts!” she cries—so Little Duck gives her his bread sandwich. Bear, who laments his empty water jug, is comforted when Little Duck allows him to drink up the whole pool. Little Duck even pulls out a feather so Mouse can write down a poem he just thought of. Little Duck now realizes he doesn’t have anything left at all and starts to cry. His friends rally round, praising his “big heart,” and Otter brings a bathtub full of water while Rabbit scurries over with cookies. An awkwardly phrased blurb on the back cover does nothing to clarify this clunky parable. The pictures are bright, with watercolor effects and very childlike animals, but they are not appealing enough to counteract the opacity of the text.

Very little fun and lots of preaching do not make a good story. If the lesson is to give away all your stuff until you have nothing left, what child wants to learn that? (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-84-15784-92-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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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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Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed.


If you thought having a unicorn as a pet was hard, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tried owning a dragon.

The young protagonist of You Don’t Want a Unicorn! (2017) is back, and they clearly haven’t learned their lesson. Now they’ve wished for a pet dragon. As the intrusive narrator is quick to point out, everything about it seems fun at the beginning. However, it’s not long before the doglike dragon starts chasing squirrels, drooling, pooping (ever wondered where charcoal comes from?), scooting its butt across the floor (leaving fire and flames behind), and more. By now, the dragon has grown too huge to keep, so the child (who appears white and also to live alone) wishes it away and settles for a cute little hamster instead. A perfect pet…until it finds a stray magical cupcake. Simple cartoon art and a surfeit of jokes about defecation suggest this book will find an appreciative audience. The dragon/dog equivalences are cute on an initial read, but they may not be strong enough to convince anyone to return. Moreover, a surprising amount of the plot hinges on having read the previous book in this series (it’s the only way readers will know that cupcakes are unicorn poop).

Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53580-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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