So where do good manners get you? Hunger here and salvation there. Life is a mystery.



A young wolf goes hunting for the first time and learns his prey can be crafty—not to mention a bunch of liars.

Leroy’s wolf in this French import has a wolfish streak, but he is also a gentleman. His first quarry is a rabbit, caught in a butterfly net. Well-mannered to a fault, the wolf asks the rabbit for its last wish: to be read a story. The wolf rushes home to get one after the rabbit promises not to move a muscle. The three vignettes that depict his rushing home, choosing a book, and rushing back are hysterical. Arriving back at the scene, the wolf finds the rabbit has vanished. “Wait...he’s gone? Oh, that liar!” His next prey, a chicken, pulls a similar bamboozlement, but the little boy he nabs soon thereafter is true to his promise not to move. So not only does the wolf grant him his last wish, a drawing, but he agrees to let the boy show it to his friends (yes, rabbit and chicken). When the wolf sees them in their woodland clubhouse, he walks away after a page turn. Readers are left to their own devices in solving the riddle, but the absence of the rabbit and the chicken in the frame may be a clue. Maudet’s artwork—vignettes, full-page illustrations, two-page spreads—are colored in earth tones that make for clean, rural tableaux.

So where do good manners get you? Hunger here and salvation there. Life is a mystery. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5479-7

Page Count: 30

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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 pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)


A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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