Those canines are at it again (Dig, Dogs, Dig, 2013), this time demolishing an old apartment building and constructing a new one in its stead.

After meeting the crew on the endpapers, readers dive right into the project with the enthusiastic dogs, the rhythm and rhyme of the verses building momentum. The wrecking ball first does its job, then the crew clears the site and begins construction, each different task requiring a different type of truck—bulldozer, dump truck, crane, concrete mixer, forklift, pumper—though not all are named in the text. Great vocabulary will really test young builders’ knowledge, though those not construction-savvy may need an adult to help them master the terms: rubble, barricades, tier, girders, welding, riveting, fixtures, terrace. Small details in Horvath’s brightly colored digital illustrations will likely draw readers back for repeated looks: As in the dogs’ first outing, a black cat lurks on every page, joining the crew on the rear endpapers. The energy reaches a crescendo when a truck full of balls crashes near the site—“fetch, dogs, fetch!”—giving readers yet another thing to look for in the pages that follow. While the construction detail does not reach the level of Sally Sutton’s Roadwork (2008), this is a rollicking, energetic read that will pump up kids’ enthusiasm for building.

Order, grown-ups, order. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-218967-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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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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Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted.


Imagination soars—quite literally—when a little girl follows her own set of rules.

Every year Oak Hill School has a go-kart race called the Going Places contest. Students are given identical go-kart kits with a precise set of instructions. And of course, every single kart ends up exactly the same. Every one, that is, except Maya’s. Maya is a dreamy artist, and she would rather sketch birds in her backyard than get caught up in the competition. When she finally does start working, she uses the parts in the go-kart box but creates something completely different. No one ever said it had to be a go-kart. Maya’s creative thinking inspires Rafael, her neighbor (and the most enthusiastic Going Places contestant), to ask to team up. The instructions never say they couldn’t work together, either! An ode to creativity and individuality to be sure, but the Reynolds brothers are also taking a swipe at modern education: Endless repetition and following instructions without question create a culture of conformity. Hopefully now, readers will see infinite possibility every time the system hands them an identical go-kart box.

Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6608-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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