An endearing picture-book debut about tolerance and the assumption of enmity instead of friendship.


An elephant attempts to befriend an artillery unit.

Tilly, a squat little blue elephant, happens upon a tank one morning. It appears to have a trunk similar to hers and a tail, but this elephant is army green. She galumphs over to say hello. But when Tank spots her in his cross hairs his alarm sounds: “WEE-OOO! WEE-OOO! WEE-OOO!” Tilly’s shy “Hello” is dwarfed by a deafening “BOOOOOOOOOOM!!!” (No ammunition is shown, and the fiery blast goes over Tilly’s head.) Tilly squeezes her eyes shut and runs away. But Tilly is curious. Perhaps that BOOM is how this strange green elephant says hello. She tries to be friendly again, this time giving the green elephant’s nose a friendly “boop” with her trunk. But Tank’s alarm begins to sound once more. One last attempt brings about a resolution that comes straight out of the 1960s, flower power and all. Tilly is the epitome of innocence with her timid glances and overflowing affection, while Tank is hard, unforgiving, and hollow. But the “THUMP-THUMP, THUMP-THUMP, THUMP-THUMP” sound coming from his base in the end gives readers a reason to cheer. Fleck’s muted, digitally colored illustrations soothe any sense of potential danger exploding from Tank’s barrel.

An endearing picture-book debut about tolerance and the assumption of enmity instead of friendship. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-91786-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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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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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...


A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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