A jazzy, eye-catching take on the ancient beat of the distant drummer.



Zita, an innocently precocious gosling, can’t find common ground with the tradition of marching in step down to the pond in the morning.

And who can blame Zita? Not only does Igor, the leader of the flock, have them goose-stepping, but there’s a whiff of the jackboot, too. Zita is out of step, and Igor soon calls her out. Zita wants to respond that she isn’t used to marching in step (and what’s the point anyway), but Igor just kicks Zita out of the parade. Back in the farmyard, Zita splashes through the puddles in dismay. “Why am I not like the other geese? One, two; one, two; They are always so obedient and so focused!” Well, Zita’s not. Dumont shapes Zita to be vulnerable and a bit subversive and sets her down in a very inviting French farmyard surrounded by a rolling landscape, all painted in saturated colors that have a chalky softness. As Zita mopes rhythmically about the yard—“splash sniff splash and splash again sniff splash”—the other animals start to listen. They pick up on her Charlie Parker bebop and join in. Woodpecker, rooster, turkey, sheep (“That beat’s enough to uncurl a sheep’s wool!”) add their own syncopated vibes and make their way, Mardi Gras style, down to the pond—where all the other geese (except Igor) join in.

A jazzy, eye-catching take on the ancient beat of the distant drummer. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5443-8

Page Count: 33

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.


A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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