For fans only.



From the Duck and Hippo series

Duck is his friends’ secret valentine in this latest in the Duck and Hippo series.

When Duck realizes that she doesn’t have a valentine on Valentine’s Day, she’s inspired. Sharp-eyed readers will catch glimpses of Duck as she stealthily leaves party invitations at Hippo’s, Turtle’s, Pig’s, and Elephant’s places. Each suspects their own special friend; Hippo and Duck, Turtle and Pig seem to be in relationships, though it’s not spelled out in the text. Readers are then privy to the various preparations each friend makes to attend, and there’s also some embedded time-telling practice. Excited Hippo brushes his teeth and dons his bow tie at 1:00. Turtle starts walking to the park at 2:00. Pig is bathing at 3:00. An hour later, everyone is surprised to arrive at the same time, but where is Duck? She makes her grand entrance as the secret valentine, presents Hippo with a red rose, and declares, “The best valentines are friends!” The group concurs as they all share the special treats they have brought. London’s latest is lackluster. There’s little in the way of character development, so those who don’t know the series already are not going to know the friends any better—or care to—after finishing this despite Joyner’s bright and cheery illustrations.

For fans only. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5039-0035-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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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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