A satisfying spin on the trading-places trope.


It’s the getaway that’s everything Fritz and Tabitha want and need…until it isn’t.

Tabitha, an orange cat from the suburbs, and Fritz, an elephant with a yen for travel, meet on the website Lair-bnb. Tabitha needs to get out of her little brick house—and away from Claudia, her little human, who’s a bit aggressive with the makeovers. Fritz has had enough of the herd for a while. Fritz loves the “watering hole” (a swimming pool) that Claudia takes him to after his long flight. Tabitha’s overjoyed to find some “family in the area” (a pair of cheetahs). (Throughout, readers are treated to Stansfield’s visual representations of the animals’ misconceptions.) But soon the excitement of the swap wears off. Fritz nearly cracks a tusk on a giant fake doughnut outside a bakery, and Tabitha’s mouse pizza horrifies Fritz’s herd. After a disaster when Fritz mistakes Claudia’s birthday party for his and a painful run-in with a hippo for Tabitha, both think an early swap back is a good idea—but their thank-you gifts to each other indicate warm feelings on both sides. Frawley’s tongue-in-cheek tale is told entirely in Lair-bnb messages between the two vacationers as each describes their trip to their counterpart. Starting with the endpapers, Stansfield’s bright cartoons offer plenty of little background giggles as well as plenty of foreground laughs.

A satisfying spin on the trading-places trope. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0854-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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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 sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.


Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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