This week’s worth of yucky, rhyming fun (and giggles) is a pleaser.



Grandma’s black cat collects some dreadful stuff.

The sibling protagonists say they like to stay with their grandmother…but her cat drags all things gross and frightful through the flap each night of the week. On Monday, there are bugs crawling all over the kitchen, as well as a hedgehog and an enormous, possibly dead, rat; Grandma is not pleased. “When we woke up on Tuesday, / got dressed and ran downstairs, / we found our troubled grandma tearing out her hair.” Now the cat’s brought in a bat, mice, lizards, ants, and some stranger’s underwear! On Wednesday when the kids come down, Grandma is “pointing at the kitchen and looking very grim. / ‘OH NO NO NO!’ she cried. / ‘Look what the CAT dragged in.’ ” Snakes, spiders, maggots, possibly dead birds, and a cheesed-off weasel—as well as a stranger’s laundry—have been added to the pile. On Saturday, the kids are just too scared to go into the kitchen, but Sunday brings a surprise: All is clean and normal….Grandma’s nailed up the cat flap and vowed the cat would stay in at night. Published in New Zealand in 2018, Davidson’s syncopated story of feline sneakiness will delight the youngest gross-out–loving crowd. The rhymed text almost begs to be sung, and Cooper’s exaggerated cartoon illustrations are expressive, silly, and satisfyingly ookie. The family presents white, and, refreshingly, this grandma is not gray-haired.

This week’s worth of yucky, rhyming fun (and giggles) is a pleaser. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-912904-60-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scribblers/Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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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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Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...


Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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