A sweet tale of interspecies positivity.



A lonely porcupine, his friendship rejected by the other woodland creatures, finds a way to bridge the divide.

Poignantly, Elmore ponders his long-standing difficulty making friends. “What was the problem? After all, the ‘L’ in Elmore’s name, his mother once explained, stood for ‘love.’ ” After posting a “Friends Wanted” sign on his beloved old maple, he overhears the scuttlebutt: “He’s too prickly. It’s hard to be around him.” After a rainy day of rumination about his quills—which his bucolic lifestyle would seem to render superficial—Elmore’s visited by his uncle. When Elmore explains his quandary, his uncle delivers an affirming message: “Your quills are beautiful. You should treasure them.” Uplifted, Elmore later regards the quills strewn about his home and gets an idea. (Amusingly, Hobbie depicts his comfy chair bristling with them.) He bundles quills together and posts a new sign, offering free “100% real Porcupine quills” to be used as pens. The “quill event” is a big success: Elmore suggests making ink from berries. “Everyone loves getting a note from a friend,” he says—and soon, he’s getting plenty. He happily regards a new maple-tree posting: an appreciation signed “Your friends.” Hobbie’s signature watercolors depict gently anthropomorphized animals amid a lovely woodland meadow dotted with yellow poppies. Verbally and visually, she thoughtfully contextualizes such concepts as “solitude” and “to treasure.”

A sweet tale of interspecies positivity. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1863-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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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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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)


Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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