This simple, interactive book about the appearances and movements of things that creep and crawl is elevated by its...


Several small animals commonly considered bugs, as well as a snake and a frog, supposedly land on this book and then leave—for a variety of reasons—each using its own special method of locomotion.

Crisp outlines and vivid colors depict the animals in meticulous detail, from the snake’s scales and the worm’s rings to the markings on the backs of spider and frog. Each page has a pleasant, solid-colored background, against which each animal and its shadow are clearly displayed. Simple sentences are directed at readers, with the pretense that real animals are landing on the book and must be gently removed. Regarding the worm: “Let’s push it off. No squishing.” As each animal leaves—by its own volition or with readers’ supposed help—a two-word sentence describes the animal’s movement, as in “Grasshoppers hop.” Playful typography reinforces the motion, as in the slightly higher placement of the “o” in “hop.” There is underlying humor, as readers follow a six-page trail of slug slime, and the text reads, “Slugs slide. But not very fast.” More humor arrives in the form of the returning snake, whose very presence sends the sticky tree frog away (“Good-bye, frog”). Endnotes give more detailed, but still kid-friendly, explanations of all the animals’ movements, and there are two pages of additional activities for teachers and parents.

This simple, interactive book about the appearances and movements of things that creep and crawl is elevated by its insistence that all creatures deserve to be respected and handled with care. (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58469-587-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dawn Publications

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 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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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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