A visually delightful wordless (and nearly plotless) afternoon in a fascinating city.


A child rides a bicycle through the neighborhoods of Taipei while a dog spends the afternoon at home, waiting.

Each page of this thoughtful book portrays a wordless snapshot in split screen: The top features a child on a bicycle in a big city, riding past neighborhood shops, a subway station, high rises, and gatherings of people. Meanwhile, the bottom strip features an eager little terrier in a room with a window, outside of which city life passes by. The city is mostly colorless, rendered in delicate line drawings full of charming details, drawing readers’ attention to select objects in color: the red-capped, yellow-jacketed child on the bicycle, a small orange ball, and, closer to home, other children and neighbors. The dog’s day is in color throughout, and when the child arrives home for a joyous reunion, the two panels merge, blooming into full color spreads as they end their afternoon together. Though there is not much plot, and some scenes require closer inspection to parse the situation (one image depicts people sitting at a barbed wire gate, behind which stand what look like police in riot gear), the pages are still a visual delight. The details of the shops and buildings are a tribute to the many faces of a big city while everyone can identify with the dog’s lonely afternoon at home. (This book was reviewed digitally with 7.5-by-19.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52.4% of actual size.)

A visually delightful wordless (and nearly plotless) afternoon in a fascinating city. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4788-7029-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Reycraft Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.


All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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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