Pedagogically sound but mean-spirited.



From the Giggle Gang series

In the latest entry in the Giggle Gang series, Duck, Sheep, and Donkey help Dog find its missing toothbrush with unsettling results.

Holding a cup and toothpaste tube, Dog declares, “My toothbrush is missing!” Donkey innocently asks, “What does a toothbrush look like?” Each description (bristles, long handle, red handle) prompts Donkey to respond with, “Weird. I feel like I’ve seen it…” and to produce something similar—though inappropriate and silly, such as a cat (bristly whiskers), a broom, and an eggbeater with a short red handle. When Donkey resolves to give up trying to help and goes back to scrubbing its hoofs with, what else, a red toothbrush labeled “DOG,” Sheep concludes, “I think you need a new toothbrush” to Duck’s like-minded “Quack.” In companion title My Friends Make Me Happy! Sheep is the protagonist, asking its “FRIENDS!” if they can guess what makes him “HAPPY?” A hint that the answer starts with the letter “F” produces some silly responses: “FISH!” “FANS!” and “TURNIPS!” Sheep finally reveals the obvious answer, “It’s FRIENDS!” then laments, “My friends make me CRAZY!” (This usage is not redressed.) Bold colors and black-outlined cartoon digital art with repetitive balloon dialogue keep the focus on the simple language. An appended three-step short outline to encourage reading is good advice.

Pedagogically sound but mean-spirited. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-96635-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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A close encounter of the best kind.


Left behind when the space bus departs, a child discovers that the moon isn’t as lifeless as it looks.

While the rest of the space-suited class follows the teacher like ducklings, one laggard carrying crayons and a sketchbook sits down to draw our home planet floating overhead, falls asleep, and wakes to see the bus zooming off. The bright yellow bus, the gaggle of playful field-trippers, and even the dull gray boulders strewn over the equally dull gray lunar surface have a rounded solidity suggestive of Plasticine models in Hare’s wordless but cinematic scenes…as do the rubbery, one-eyed, dull gray creatures (think: those stress-busting dolls with ears that pop out when squeezed) that emerge from the regolith. The mutual shock lasts but a moment before the lunarians eagerly grab the proffered crayons to brighten the bland gray setting with silly designs. The creatures dive into the dust when the bus swoops back down but pop up to exchange goodbye waves with the errant child, who turns out to be an olive-skinned kid with a mop of brown hair last seen drawing one of their new friends with the one crayon—gray, of course—left in the box. Body language is expressive enough in this debut outing to make a verbal narrative superfluous.

A close encounter of the best kind. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4253-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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Formulaic but not stale…even if it does mine previous topical material rather than expand it.


From the How Do Dinosaurs…? series

A guide to better behavior—at home, on the playground, in class, and in the library.

Serving as a sort of overview for the series’ 12 previous exercises in behavior modeling, this latest outing opens with a set of badly behaving dinos, identified in an endpaper key and also inconspicuously in situ. Per series formula, these are paired to leading questions like “Does she spit out her broccoli onto the floor? / Does he shout ‘I hate meat loaf!’ while slamming the door?” (Choruses of “NO!” from young audiences are welcome.) Midway through, the tone changes (“No, dinosaurs don’t”), and good examples follow to the tune of positive declarative sentences: “They wipe up the tables and vacuum the floors. / They share all the books and they never slam doors,” etc. Teague’s customary, humongous prehistoric crew, all depicted in exact detail and with wildly flashy coloration, fill both their spreads and their human-scale scenes as their human parents—no same-sex couples but some are racially mixed, and in one the man’s the cook—join a similarly diverse set of sibs and other children in either disapprobation or approving smiles. All in all, it’s a well-tested mix of oblique and prescriptive approaches to proper behavior as well as a lighthearted way to play up the use of “please,” “thank you,” and even “I’ll help when you’re hurt.”

Formulaic but not stale…even if it does mine previous topical material rather than expand it. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-36334-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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