A fine title to add, not swap, to the new-baby shelf.



Inspired by her mother’s shopping trip to exchange a hat, Caroline Crocodile tries to swap her baby brother, only to discover that he’s just right, after all.

Jealousy is the culprit in Caroline’s dissatisfaction with her new sibling. She seethes as Mama Crocodile enthuses, “He is as green as a grub, and his eyes are as yellow as egg yolks.” Matters worsen as Mama continues to lavish praise on her hatchling, and when Caroline is left in charge while Mama pops into the millinery, she spies “The Baby Shop.” Pictures reveal the store as one that sells baby clothing, furniture and accoutrements, but Caroline misinterprets its sales mission and heads inside to swap her drooling baby brother. A compassionate—and extremely resourceful—sales-goat somehow comes up with a series of other babies (a panda cub, twin tigers, a baby giraffe, a piglet and even an elephant’s child), but each is somehow problematic. Ormerod and Joyner infuse humor into the mishaps with each baby, which helps mitigate the hole in the story’s logic: Just where do these trial babies come from? Caroline ultimately reunites with her “just right” baby brother and happily accepts her returning mother’s oblivious praise. Joyner’s comic illustrations add much to the story’s success with their expressive, detailed and engaging approach.

A fine title to add, not swap, to the new-baby shelf. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 17, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1914-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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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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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.


Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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