Misfits, bullies, educators, parents and kids of all kinds just may learn a thing or two from this nocturnal love story.




It looks as if Mr. Prickles will never fit in with the cast of furry forest creatures that cavort each night. This makes him feel “Very prickly.” That is, until he meets Miss Pointypants.

The lonely porcupine does his best to make friends with Raccoon, Chipmunk and Skunk, but he is too different and not “cute,” “cuddly” or “playful” like them. Angry at being avoided and ignored, he retires to his stump to glare at them “with very prickly regard.” One night he notices Miss Pointypants at a nearby stump. Slowly they become friends and enjoy a nighttime stroll, a splash in the lake, a woodsy snack and a romantic moonrise. When the tormenting trio sets upon them with taunts and teasing, the duo “didn’t seem to care,” discovering that “[i]t’s much nicer being alone with someone else.” LaReau clearly enjoys the particularly pertinent and pointed power of alliteration and wordplay here—more accomplished readers should, too. Magoon’s cartoonlike illustrations manage to capture the range of Mr. Prickles’ emotions as he goes from hopeful to annoyed to infuriated to surprisingly happy all within a relatively dark palette. The pair have a history of creating humorous tales that tackle not-so-funny issues (Ugly Fish, 2006, and Rabbit and Squirrel: A Tale of War and Peas, 2008).

Misfits, bullies, educators, parents and kids of all kinds just may learn a thing or two from this nocturnal love story. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59643-483-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011

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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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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.


A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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