Will make Rubin and Salmieri’s fans split their own pants.



An astronomically tall tale in which a llama’s inability to control his appetite inadvertently creates a black hole.

Stutzman and Fox’s debut collaboration takes on the concept popularized by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri’s Dragons Love Tacos (2012), in which creatures’ dining preferences wreak havoc upon the world as we know it. It happens, more specifically, after Llama has eaten a gigantic pile of cakes, squeezed into too-small dancing pants, and then ripped his pants while dancing. The understated narration is passively critical of Llama’s choices, detailing the moments (“mistakes”) in which he could have made different choices in the past tense. The book’s exploration of consequences is muddled by the fact that readers are positioned alongside the narrative voice, which, in expressing disapproval of Llama’s choices, sounds somewhat fatphobic: According to the text, overeating is an “honest mistake” that leads to “the ultimate doom of everything.” However, Fox’s digital illustrations successfully utilize color and shape to simultaneously heighten the hilarity and the drama; Llama’s gigantic eyes and stubby legs belie the gravity (or lack thereof) of the world’s impending doom. The book itself is well-designed. Beneath the appropriately urgent-looking fluorescent orange dust jacket, emblazoned with the title in capital letters, Llama appears wearing intact pants in a spotlight underneath a disco ball, and the front and back endpapers contain clues about the fate of the world.

Will make Rubin and Salmieri’s fans split their own pants. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30317-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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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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