A charming, tender, and ever pertinent life lesson.



Little Bird loves to learn new words, especially when they are “big bird” words.

When his papa drops a juicy worm with a loud “Blark,” Little Bird is thrilled to try out the new word. Papa tells him that the word is not suitable for little birds, but of course, this makes Little Bird want to show it off to all his friends. Their reactions are not what he expected. Frog is startled, Moose is rendered speechless, Fish and Ladybug are very unhappy, and poor, shocked Turtle just retreats deep in his shell. Little Bird realizes that something about that word is just plain wrong. Papa helps him make amends, and he knows the right word for that. In an amusing touch, it’s the newly recaptured worm that uses the word next—and last. Grant employs a gentle touch with what could have been a heavy-handed morality tale, carefully avoiding a descent into didacticism or saccharine sentiment. Little Bird is innocent and well-meaning, and his Papa is nonjudgmental and patient. Although upset at first, his friends accept his apology, knowing that he never meant to hurt them. The text stands out in bold print in large white spaces. Little readers receive strong visual clues to augment the text via bright, large-scale charcoal and digitally colored illustrations depicting the characters’ emotional responses to the events.

A charming, tender, and ever pertinent life lesson. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05149-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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?

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.


Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet