This British picture book, with more text than usual for the format, tells the adventures of Albie, a dog, who is looking for his mate, Nellie.

While the book’s design is rather staid—illustrations in full bleed that run past the gutter and text on the rest of the white page with some black-and-white spot illustrations—its content is not. The story’s text is robust and rambles conversationally (in a very good way) as it details what Albie sees and smells and hears on his adventure to find Nellie. Author Milton (author/title pun duly noted) has a way with words as he introduces American readers to an English countryside in summer. His observations are keen and ingenuous, just the sort a dog may have, and this artless feel is echoed in illustrator Elliott’s watercolors. White outlines give body to a riot of color and naïve forms, and the overall feeling is one of delight. The story is simple: Albie wakes up in the cozy kitchen and discovers that his boon companion, Nellie, is missing. He trots outside and investigates the garden, meadow, seashore, and town. Then Albie, (after an adventure in town involving sausages) finds himself drawn to a cave in the heart of the mountain, where he meets Gwendolyn, an ancient dragon who helps him find Nellie. Nellie has never been in trouble, though; quite the opposite, and the ending is a satisfyingly happy one.

Just lovely. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-912213-64-1

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Graffeg/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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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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