A child, a tree frog, and a poignant, poetic journey to find a sense of home.


Sometimes all it takes is finding an unexpected friend, waiting and still, ready for play.

A young child with pale skin, short black hair, and (literally) almond-shaped eyes has just moved to a new home. Unsure of this big change, the child holds a cat stuffie and looks askance at the movers. Then a little frog catches the child’s eye. Spread by spread, season by season, lyrical poems tell the story of this budding friendship, in which the child learns to be still and see small details in this world, as an artist or scientist does. These deceptively simple poems contain a multitude of poetic devices. Short, expressive facts about tree frogs also accompany the poems. In playing with the frog, the child mimics its movements, and on one spread, they are both depicted with the same speckles and black outline. This oneness helps the child feel less lonely and eventually find a friend in a brown-skinned classmate who is equally still and observant. Sudyka’s bold lines and vivid watercolor palette paint an immersive, verdant world, with occasional color pops. Whimsical flourishes often blur the child’s real and imaginary worlds while concealed in the illustrations are names of birds, bugs, flowers, and more for young scientists to discover. Backmatter provides additional information about tree frogs, perfect for STEAM lessons. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

A child, a tree frog, and a poignant, poetic journey to find a sense of home. (Picture book/poetry. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-06476-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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