Though it begins quite dark, this winning tale quickly moves forward to reveal a touching story about a family who would do...



The story of a beloved animal best friend almost lost and the neighbor who couldn’t see beyond his greed.

Mahler Harris lyrically recounts the true story of Smokey, a one-eyed horse who was found lying on the ground of his farm by a neighbor who had sinister motives—the expansion of his property into a new mall: "That horse is done in for, never get to his stall. If I get that pasture, I'll build a new mall." He tried to convince the mother to put the animal down to the dismay of the children. It took the magic of music to bring the old horse around and at once he began to sway and dance: "The old horse did listen and circled the farm. Moving and swaying, he danced into the barn." Soon the animal started to heal, and the townspeople became enamored of the sweet horse, including the local football team, who fixed his barn so he wouldn't be injured when he danced. Smokey began to draw a crowd of fans who came from all over to see this remarkable animal. To keep their beloved pet happy, the family kept music playing all day and night, the happy horse never fell ill again, and the angry neighbor's dreams of monetary success were shattered. Mahler Harris tenderly teaches young readers the true meaning of friendship and loyalty, even when a situation seems all but lost. Lemaire's illustrations complete the tale, sweetly bringing to life the beloved animal without putting off readers throughout some of the story’s darker parts.

Though it begins quite dark, this winning tale quickly moves forward to reveal a touching story about a family who would do anything to save their beloved horse.

Pub Date: July 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-1456553371

Page Count: 22

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

Did you like this book?


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

Did you like this book?