The silly scenario and pro–books-and-reading message accentuate the appeal.


A little boy asks, “Daddy, why do you always read me Mother Goose before bed?” The question prompts a zany tale from Daddy’s boyhood.

Young Daddy finds a live duck in the fridge. Then three in the bathroom. Then more! The unruly critters steal his pajamas, eat all the crackers and order out for pizza. Calling 1-800-DUCK-B-GONE for something to scare the ducks away—once, twice and thrice—Daddy receives delivery of two sheep (who are hairy, not scary), three dogs and, lastly, one purportedly “scary” herd of cows. In each case, the delivered animals merely add to the chaos—bonding with each other via television, card games and a wild party. Overhearing party chitchat, boy Daddy gets an idea. Maybe he doesn’t need to scare the animals off to get them to cooperate. He begins to read “The Old Woman in the Shoe” and immediately captivates his listeners. “Hey, Diddle Diddle” goes down just as well. Young Daddy thus finds a solution for that difficult transition for preschoolers, from full-bore activity to bedtime—one that comes in handy with his own child, years later. Mack’s digitally rendered, cartoonish pictures are characterized by grainy colors, soft-edged brown contour lines and occasional flowery motifs for textiles. Hmm, whatever did happen to all those animals, anyway? A visual joke on the last double-page spread supplies the laugh-out-loud payoff.

The silly scenario and pro–books-and-reading message accentuate the appeal. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4776-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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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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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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