Charming critters in collage and poetry for people of all ages.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2012



From the Neighbors series

Not your standard children’s poetry book, this illustrated collection offers sounds and scenes to savor for ages 3 and up.

Held (After Shakespeare: Selected Sonnets, 2011, etc.) and Kim (Hen Hears Gossip, 2010, etc.) team up for the first in a series that portrays the wild animals that a child might see close to home. The 13 poems each feature an animal typically found near urban, suburban or rural settings—squirrels, rabbits, groundhogs, bats, earthworms—and at least one digital collage or drawn image of the critter. The work invites discussion and reflection that can broaden the experience for children and avoid boredom for parents rereading for the umpteenth time. In language choices, Held offers material not usually considered the territory of youngsters—portmanteau words (“racku for a raccoon haiku), near puns (“squirreling dervishes”), upper-level vocabulary (demise, omnivore) and literary references (Brer Rabbit’s race with Brer Terrapin). Although he has shortened lines from his adult verse, Held refuses to be held to simple rhymes for kiddies, providing readers and listeners with an assortment of sounds and sound patterns, including eye rhyme, alliteration and homophones. The ideas of the poems also engage; Held presents the metaphor of a deer as a weed, “diminished to a pest” by its proximity to lawns and yards, but not all of the content is this insightful or engaging. Kim keeps up: beyond the single, easily recognized animal, the supersized images invite readers to explore. Such exploration may lead to discoveries of partially hidden animals, interesting combinations of drawing and collage, or surprising choices of collage materials.

Charming critters in collage and poetry for people of all ages.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-0916754259

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Filsinger & Co.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 12

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller


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

Did you like this book?

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Newbery Medal Winner


How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.

Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers’ passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?