Brett adds to the wide variety of interpretations of the beloved fairy tale with this charming retelling featuring a flock of elegantly attired fowl in an 18th-century Russian setting.

Little Cinders is a small, meek hen with muted gray feathers and a shy demeanor. She lives in a fancy chicken house with onion-domed towers, shown in cutaway views with decorated borders and insets in Brett’s distinctive style. The flock is dominated by “old biddy” Largessa and her two large-and-in-charge daughters, Pecky and Bossy, who treat Cinders as their servant. The traditional plot of the fairy tale unfolds as Cinders is left behind on the night of the “feathered fantasy” at the Ice Palace. When the other chickens depart in fine dresses and embroidered waistcoats, a white Silkie hen appears in the role of fairy godmother, outfitting Cinders in a dazzling ball gown decorated with pearls, pink ribbons and lace. The transformed Cinders arrives at the ball in time to win the heart of Prince Cockerel, a handsome rooster with shiny green tail feathers. The visual heart of the story is a double gatefold spread of the ball, which opens to reveal the cast of elegant chickens, dancing at the Ice Palace in all their finery. A captivating addition to the “Cinderella” canon. (Picture book. 4-8)


Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-25783-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 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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Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...


Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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