Three adventures of the gentlemanly Irish pig Pigín.

In “Pigs Can’t Fly, but They Can Swim,” Pigín gets a swimming lesson from Sammy the seal and his friends. Of course, he sends the seals a thank-you note (so much nicer than a text, he feels), ending the day at the cozy cottage of his friend Nanakit, a white human. “Pigín’s Magical Midnight Adventure” begins with an unexpected call from the Fairy Queen, who has made Pigín a new Dublin jersey. (The old one “was a bit worn.”) This is serendipity, since Pigín and his pal, Badger of Ballsbridge, are going to see the Dubs at their training session. They take a DART train and a bus to get there, cheering on both the football and the hurling teams. After a stop at the local school to watch the children practice with their violins, the day ends with a magical fairy evening. In “A Day to Wear a Top Hat,” Pigín attends the Dublin Horse Show and even meets the president of Ireland, but that’s after a delightful morning of wallowing in the mud. Pigín possesses a winning combination of decorum and joie de vivre, a great role model. Suggs’ illustrations have a suggestion of Beatrix Potter, small and intricate, enhancing the generous text, which is amply surrounded by white space. Irish readers will delight in the regional specificity, while others will come away with a sense of a very distinct culture.

Genuinely whimsical. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7171-6972-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Gill Books/Dufour Editions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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A life devoted to freedom and dignity, worthy of praise and remembrance.


With the words of Massachusetts colonial rebels ringing in her ears, a slave determines to win her freedom.

In 1780, Mumbet heard the words of the new Massachusetts constitution, including its declaration of freedom and equality. With the help of a young lawyer, she went to court and the following year, won her freedom, becoming Elizabeth Freeman. Slavery was declared illegal and subsequently outlawed in the state. Woelfle writes with fervor as she describes Mumbet’s life in the household of John Ashley, a rich landowner and businessman who hosted protest meetings against British taxation. His wife was abrasive and abusive, striking out with a coal shovel at a young girl, possibly Mumbet’s daughter. Mumbet deflected the blow and regarded the wound as “her badge of bravery.” Ironically, the lawyer who took her case, Theodore Sedgwick, had attended John Ashley’s meetings. Delinois’ full-bleed paintings are heroic in scale, richly textured and vibrant. Typography becomes part of the page design as the font increases when the text mentions freedom. Another slave in the Ashley household was named in the court case, but Woelfle, keeping her young audience in mind, keeps it simple, wisely focusing on Mumbet.

A life devoted to freedom and dignity, worthy of praise and remembrance. (author’s note, selected bibliography, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7613-6589-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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