It won’t break the mold of the big-bear-in-the-city trope, but sharp jokes and richness in the details make this book well...



A fed-up bear takes a break from his annual cave-sleeping routine but finds that his companions and slumber aren’t so easily left behind.

Bear’s hibernation time has started, but he can’t sleep. For one thing, he’s surrounded by about 20 critters who pile atop and next to him, whether it’s Beaver or Raccoon or Skunk. “I’ve had enough of being treated like a big furry mattress,” he declares and sets off to find solo accommodations at a posh hotel. It goes about as well as could be expected: he scarfs down every snack in sight, drinks from the toilet, and has trouble getting the room’s temperature right. But just when readers think that he won’t catch a wink because of the “strange, hollow, empty feeling” in his tummy, it turns out it’s not loneliness but hunger that only room service can cure. Gigantic Bear, with his enormous white belly patch and his curiosity about hair dryers and shampoos, is a grumpy delight, but he’s not completely heartless. When his pals show up, they do end up in a hibernation cuddle, though it’s unclear who’s picking up the charges for the whole winter. Stuffed with skewed, goofy, and detailed illustrations that highlight Bear’s presence against his expensive surroundings, the book goes quite a few beats further than simply delivering a moral message about being careful what you wish for. Bear gets to have his friends, his sleep, and a hibernation stay in style.

It won’t break the mold of the big-bear-in-the-city trope, but sharp jokes and richness in the details make this book well worth an extended stay. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68010-073-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.


Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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