A pleasant, approachable portrait of a less-common type of pet.

MIGHTY ZOË

THE MISUNDERSTOOD PARROT

A family learns what it takes to be good owners of a pet parrot in this picture book for elementary schoolers.

Zoë, a green-cheeked conure, is adopted by a mother with two children, several cats, and a dog. The bird quickly adopts Mama as her soul mate, and although the parrot doesn’t imitate human words, she seemingly answers questions with fervent nods. The family learns about the parrot’s preening behaviors, which include plucking hairs from Mama’s arm, and her tendency to splash around in her water. She also makes “grinding” noises with her beak, bites to warn of danger, and squawks when lonely. Lonczak reveals these actions in a matter-of-fact manner, never criticizing Zoë but instead focusing on the family’s reactions. Clever asides from Zoë’s perspective, such as her defense of spilling popcorn (“How am I supposed to grow the forest if she keeps cleaning up the seeds?!”) offer insight into bird psychology. The humans’ facial expressions in Varjotie’s cartoonlike, full-color illustrations sometimes seem unrealistic; Mama hardly reacts when Zoë bites her on the ear. The charming images of Zoë, though, capture the little bird’s big personality. A reference to Napoleon may puzzle young readers, though.

A pleasant, approachable portrait of a less-common type of pet.

Pub Date: July 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73446-877-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: IngramSpark

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 32

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE WONKY DONKEY

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?

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

more