A stunningly produced version of an odd but oft-told story.


In 1825, the Ottoman viceroy of Egypt gave a giraffe to Charles X of France.

The two-year journey of a giraffe from Sudan to Paris in the first quarter of the 19th century is exotic enough to have been told a number of times. This version is told from the deeply anthropomorphized point of view of the giraffe herself. The giraffe is captured by men with ropes and spears, carried on camelback and loaded onto a ship, where she is cared for by two boys. Across the Mediterranean, the party walks from Marseilles to Paris, and the giraffe becomes something of a media star. All of this is illustrated in lush, full-page, digitally produced art that resembles oil painting and that makes the most of the many varied landscapes the giraffe travels through. The giraffe opens herself to all these unknown experiences in her narration, finding joy in how people perceive her as elegant and graceful. Adult and older child readers may alternatively contemplate the horror of being forcibly taken from one’s homeland or the gift of making the best of where one finds oneself; younger children may take delight in the scenes of the giraffe being carried on the back of a camel and eating the flowers from a woman’s hair.

A stunningly produced version of an odd but oft-told story. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-56846-230-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.


Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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