A startlingly informative alternative to the run-of-the-mill potty book. (Picture book. 3-7)



The call of nature prods a young three-toed sloth to go it alone.

Young Kyle, Thornhill informs readers, does everything at such a glacial pace that he needs to “go” only once a week. When that once-a-week urge rolls around, he is taken aback when his mother announces he can make the long trip from the rain forest canopy to the ground to do his duty all by himself. Kyle isn’t so sure, but he sets out, taking heart along the way from the encouragement of neighbors at various levels: a red-spectacled parrot, a whipsnake, a tiger-legged monkey tree frog, and a leafcutter ant. Sharp-eyed readers will notice Kyle’s mother, hidden behind leaves but keeping watch all the way down, in addition to the various named animals. Barron’s cut-paper collages feature crisp edges and textured, painted surfaces that hint at algae-covered sloth fur. Her palette for the foliage is dominated by light greens and blues, which doesn’t evoke the deep, emerald greens typically associated with the rain forest but does pick up Kyle’s odd, blue eyes. Several double-page spreads are oriented vertically, forcing readers to turn the book 90 degrees and emphasizing the great height from which Kyle descends. Two concluding notes provide further information on the alimentary system of the three-toed sloth and natural camouflage; Thornhill’s sources appear on the final page.

A startlingly informative alternative to the run-of-the-mill potty book. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-77147-075-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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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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