Though his story is a bit wordy (but well-suited to a read-aloud), few will be able to resist Enzo’s charm.



Traffic may not daunt the race car–chasing dog, but Halloween certainly does.

It doesn’t help that Zoë gets Daddy to tell all about Halloween “the scary way.” Denny turns off the lights, puts a flashlight under his chin, and tells of ghosts and spooks running through the neighborhood. The little dog thinks, “It’s going to take all my energy to protect us from this impending invasion.” His tongue-in-cheek first-person (first-dog?) narration provides an unusual perspective on Halloween. For instance, he believes that the jack-o’-lantern Zoë and Denny carved has put an evil spell on his humans (both white), transforming them into a fairy princess and a scarecrow. But the last straw for the dog in the green dragon costume is when his barks cause everyone to run away—from him. To save them, he runs away himself. It is only when Zoë finds him and finally explains that Halloween is dress-up that Enzo loses his haunted and hangdog look, and the night ends on a loving note. Alley’s artwork uses pen and ink, pencil, watercolor, gouache, acrylics, and spilled coffee to create joyful family scenes that revolve around Halloween fun—few pages will be truly frightening for young readers, but they will understand Enzo’s fear, nonetheless, which is clear in his body language and facial expressions.

Though his story is a bit wordy (but well-suited to a read-aloud), few will be able to resist Enzo’s charm. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-238061-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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 must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself.

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School-age children encounter and overcome feelings of difference from their peers in the latest picture book from Woodson.

This nonlinear story centers on Angelina, with big curly hair and brown skin, as she begins the school year with a class share-out of summer travels. Text and illustrations effectively work together to convey her feelings of otherness as she reflects on her own summer spent at home: “What good is this / when others were flying,” she ponders while leaning out her city window forlornly watching birds fly past to seemingly faraway places. López’s incorporation of a ruler for a door, table, and tree into the illustrations creatively extends the metaphor of measuring up to others. Three other children—Rigoberto, a recent immigrant from Venezuela; a presumably Korean girl with her “too strange” lunch of kimchi, meat, and rice; and a lonely white boy in what seems to be a suburb—experience more-direct teasing for their outsider status. A bright jewel-toned palette and clever details, including a literal reflection of a better future, reveal hope and pride in spite of the taunting. This reassuring, lyrical book feels like a big hug from a wise aunt as she imparts the wisdom of the world in order to calm trepidatious young children: One of these things is not like the other, and that is actually what makes all the difference.

A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-24653-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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