An action-packed and stirring tale of a heroic young wolf and his comrades facing a murderous pack.



In this middle-grade novel, a distinctive wolf pup and his siblings struggle to survive.

Wolf pup Watcher was born with a bad leg and excellent sight—not just vision, but also an ability to see things differently. Although some packs would have eliminated Three Legs, as Watcher is disparagingly called, his parents, Lord Anorak and Lady Summer, recognize his value and save his life. His littermates are a diverse group—powerful, large Orion seems destined to lead; Windy possesses an otherworldly sense of smell; Glimmer, with a dull snout, inherits enough beauty to carry her along; and Kicker, also a runt like Watcher, copes with his crippling jealousy of his two brothers. When tragedy strikes and the Lone Rock Pack, led by the evil Bone, annihilates their parents and the rest of their Gray Woods Pack, the siblings must go on the run. Still pups and supposedly hampered by Watcher’s weakness, the remainder of the Gray Woods Pack seems destined for failure. As the band encounters hazard after hazard and more misfortune in its desperate attempts to flee the malevolent Bone, Watcher realizes that the only way to save his siblings and the other wolves who have joined them is to set Orion free. And that means challenging Orion for pack leadership. Some adults may scoff at wolves as main characters, but most children love anthropomorphic books. Although Raney (Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves, 2016, etc.) delivers plenty of suspense, his tale centers on sibling love and devotion. Watcher and Kicker heal their relationship through a near tragedy, strengthening both the pack and their litter. The siblings extend their strong sense of familial loyalty to the weaker remnants of the pack, risking their own lives to prevent the loss of any cohorts. While intended for a middle-grade audience, sensitive younger readers may find much of the storyline upsetting. But those who can handle some violence and sorrow should be enriched by this heartwarming saga and hope for a sequel.

An action-packed and stirring tale of a heroic young wolf and his comrades facing a murderous pack.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5391-6068-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2016

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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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Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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