Rather than building self-esteem, this book seems to be sending the troubling message that it is constructed through a...


Various anthropomorphic animals share with a child what they love most about themselves.

Instead of a celebration of self, though, the book becomes more of a I-love-this-about-myself-because-it-has-to-do-with-you affair. When whispered into the ear of a bulldog, the titular question is answered, “I love my ears because your whispers tickle.” And a flamingo responds, “I love my legs because I get a kick out of you.” A chipmunk’s cheeks are great for blowing kisses, while a giraffe’s neck can reach the stars. Some of the replies may cause some head-scratching: the whale says its spout is its favorite, “because singing in the rain makes me happy.” The child stands beside the whale (who is evidently standing upright on its flukes) holding an umbrella. And the ending leaves things very unfinished for readers. The narrator looks at the white cat that has appeared throughout in the various scenes and now sits atop a pile of stuffed animals that corresponds to all the animals in the book and says, “What do I love about me? // I love my…self. // And I love you.” Plain, pastel-colored backgrounds keep the focus on the animals and the child, who has straight, dark hair in a neat bob and light brown skin in the spare Photoshopped illustrations.

Rather than building self-esteem, this book seems to be sending the troubling message that it is constructed through a child’s relationships to others. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68119-093-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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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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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...


A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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