Whybrow’s (Little Wolf’s Book of Badness, 1999) second Little Wolf story includes every element needed to make an engrossing read for children: lost gold, travel, a villain, a ghost, and no parents! Little Wolf is joined by his cousin Yeller at his dead uncle’s Academy. They decide to give the Academy a new image by dubbing it the Adventure Academy and equipping it with the scariest rides that money can buy. They’re rich, you see; they have found Uncle Bigbad’s gold! As their plans progress, Little Wolf’s younger brother, Smellybreff, shows up and insists on hoarding all the gold in a safe to which only he knows the combination. Then trouble arrives. Trouble in the name of Mister Marvo, who has strangely mesmeric eyes and promises to build the best Adventure Playground ever if they give him three “wheelbarrowsful” of gold! Without doing a stitch of work, Marvo steals the safe and kidnaps Smellybreff. Thus begins an adventure over steep mountains and deep water (all carefully recorded in Little Wolf’s letters to his parents and apparently included in his diary) as our brave wolves (and a young crow) pursue the thief with only their own wily wits to rely on. Ending with a haunting twist, a lesson about greed is learned. Full of fanciful wordplay and Ross’ (Why?, 1999, etc.) amusing illustrations, this book demands to be read aloud! Peppered with phonetic spelling and lots of obvious mistakes, the format will let children revel in being smarter that Little Wolf. (map) (Fiction. 810)

Pub Date: May 16, 2000

ISBN: 1-57505-411-6

Page Count: 132

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

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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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Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come.


From the Little Blue Truck series

Little Blue Truck and his pal Toad meet friends old and new on a springtime drive through the country.

This lift-the-flap, interactive entry in the popular Little Blue Truck series lacks the narrative strength and valuable life lessons of the original Little Blue Truck (2008) and its sequel, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way (2009). Both of those books, published for preschoolers rather than toddlers, featured rich storylines, dramatic, kinetic illustrations, and simple but valuable life lessons—the folly of taking oneself too seriously, the importance of friends, and the virtue of taking turns, for example. At about half the length and with half as much text as the aforementioned titles, this volume is a much quicker read. Less a story than a vernal celebration, the book depicts a bucolic drive through farmland and encounters with various animals and their young along the way. Beautifully rendered two-page tableaux teem with butterflies, blossoms, and vibrant pastel, springtime colors. Little Blue greets a sheep standing in the door of a barn: “Yoo-hoo, Sheep! / Beep-beep! / What’s new?” Folding back the durable, card-stock flap reveals the barn’s interior and an adorable set of twin lambs. Encounters with a duck and nine ducklings, a cow with a calf, a pig with 10 (!) piglets, a family of bunnies, and a chicken with a freshly hatched chick provide ample opportunity for counting and vocabulary work.

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-93809-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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