Friendship is enduring in this hilarious adventure just right for independent young readers.


From the Sydney and Taylor series , Vol. 2

Despite best intentions, Taylor has been unable to achieve his dream of exploring the world, as described in series opener Sydney & Taylor Explore the Whole Wide World (2021).

Taylor is a hedgehog with many Big Ideas; his best friend, Sydney, is a skunk who much prefers a quiet existence in their well-appointed burrow. Taylor is brave, until he isn’t, while calm, supportive Sydney is usually the one who rescues him from his follies. This time Taylor’s Big Idea is so outrageous that Sydney laughs at him, deeply hurting his feelings. Taylor has decided that he is going to fly. A plan promulgated by some friendly birds works for a while, but Taylor hits panic position and Sydney breaks the fall. Deer send him to a bat, a mammal that flies. Taylor is pulled up on the roof with an umbrella tied to him for webbing. But he panics again, and Sydney breaks this fall also. A flying toy buzzes over and lands near them, giving Sydney an even Bigger Idea. A few safety measures, some near disasters, and more Big Ideas later, and the friends are happily safe at home after a successful conclusion. Davies tells the tale with great humor in vivid, expressive syntax, working in a few animal facts along the way. Taylor and Sydney are genuine friends who accept each other’s idiosyncrasies. Bright illustrations appear in vignettes, single-, and double-page spreads, closely following the action, capturing the characters’ every changing emotion in expressive faces and body language, and adding many delightful and intricate details.

Friendship is enduring in this hilarious adventure just right for independent young readers. (Animal fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-10635-7

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...


Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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