A thoughtful, educational lesson for animal lovers.


A girl realizes her new pet frog belongs in a pond in this picture book.

Six-year-old Becky is thrilled when her parents finally allow her to get a pet. On a family trip to the mountains, Becky enjoys visiting a pond where she sees and hears various critters (“Bzzzzzzzzz; Ribbit; Quack, Quack!”). Becky decides to bring a frog home. She thinks: “He’ll be such a cool pet…better than a dog!” Becky names him Gideon and keeps him in a box. But Gideon doesn’t acclimate and becomes listless and sad. Becky is perplexed until her dad explains that the frog is an amphibian and “should be in his pond, free to leap high and swim!” Though disappointed, Becky realizes Gideon probably misses his home. She returns him to the pond and watches as he is embraced by fellow frogs. Becky will miss Gideon, but she knows she did the right thing. With her relatable protagonist, Lonczak delivers an essential lesson, emphasizing the importance of leaving animals in their natural habitats where they can thrive. The author also includes a note about “Frog Endangerment.” Dimitrovska’s illustrations are colorful with a hand-drawn quality, offering shadows and textures. The light-skinned Becky is shown in a variety of circumstances, including spending time outside and with Gideon. The images of nature are serene and detailed, and the depictions of critters, mainly frogs, are friendly. Some pages feature a pattern of greenery, bubbles, tadpoles, and frogs.

A thoughtful, educational lesson for animal lovers.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-578-51549-6

Page Count: 44

Publisher: IngramSpark

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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

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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

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