A story of a girl, a cottage, and a family tradition that begs to be visited again and again.



Like a cottage quilt, rhythmic stanzas and vintage-style illustrations are stitched together with memories and love.

Lyrical, not-quite-rhyming text tells the simple yet touching story of a girl with brown skin and straight, black hair who visits a special blue cottage every summer with her interracial family. Shared activities (waterskiing, beach play, and cycling) and meals (pancakes) convey the closeness in this family. In the summer, the girl escapes the warm cottage to play on the beach; during torrential storms, she hides within the cottage walls, peering out at the high whitecaps. The cottage, serving as a secondary character, awaits the girl’s return each year, as well as the sights, sounds, and smells that accompany her visit. Alternating between vignettes and broad spreads, illustrations that recall the stylings of Virginia Lee Burton and Barbara Cooney have the texture and appearance of colored pencil. Muted earth tones dominate, and prints and patterns also adorn each thoughtfully composed spread, adding to the layered visual appeal of the book. Eventually the girl grows up and no longer visits, and the cottage falls into neglect, nearly disappearing into the surrounding vegetation. The book ends as it began, with a second multiracial generation returning to the little blue cottage, to restore its timeless splendor and build new memories.

A story of a girl, a cottage, and a family tradition that begs to be visited again and again. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62414-923-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.


Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Creative, comedic, and carrot-loads of fun.


An obsessed narrator creates an alphabet book overrun with rabbits, much to the chagrin of an owl who wants to create a “proper, respectable” alphabet book.

The picture book begins, “A is for A rabbit,” an illustration of a large brown rabbit taking up most of the recto. The owl protagonist—presumably the co-creator of the book—points out that “rabbit” begins with “R.” “Yes, but “a rabbit” starts with A,” says the narrator, before moving on to “B is for bunny,” which, as the owl points out, is just another name for rabbit. Despite the owl’s mounting frustration, the narrator genially narrates several rabbits into existence on almost every single page, rendered with such variety that readers will find their proliferation endlessly amusing. The letter D, for instance, introduces readers to “delightful, dynamic, daredevil RABBITS!” (a herd of biker rabbits), and although the narrator says “E is for Elephant” (which momentarily satisfies the owl), the image depicts several rabbits poorly disguised as an elephant. Much to the owl’s chagrin and, ultimately, exhaustion, the narrator grows more and more creative in their presentation of their favorite animal as the picture book proceeds down a rabbit hole of…well, rabbits! Batsel’s debut picture book for readers already familiar with the English alphabet is funny and highly entertaining. The whimsical narrative and the colorful images make this an excellent elementary-age read-aloud.

Creative, comedic, and carrot-loads of fun. (Picture book. 4-8)/p>)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2950-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Although many readers will relate to being technology orphans, little else will entertain in this rather bland tale.


A well-intentioned effort with an extra-sweet ending may briefly satisfy but ultimately leaves readers wanting.

Little sister Annie is always getting sticky. A stuck lollipop on her nose, exploded bubble gum over her face, ice cream dripping down her arm and “marshmallow goop” clogged in her ears are Annie’s distractions while her family members ignore her. They are too addicted to their own vices—video games, cellphone, laptop and what looks to be an iPad—to pay her much attention other than to be annoyed at the messes she makes. “One day Annie was hungry and went looking for a snack. As usual, everyone was doing their own thing, and there was no one to help Annie.” In an attempt to solve her own problem, she creates a very sticky sandwich with peanut butter and honey. When Annie accidently falls onto her dog, she finds herself stuck to the surprised canine. One mishap after another causes each family member to get stuck as well, until they are all one exasperated heap. But Annie has an idea that requires everyone to pay attention to each other and work together. The fire department and a good deal of water follow, but Annie’s family is having too good a time to become “unstuck yet.” Björkman illustrates the antics but fails to add much to the text.

Although many readers will relate to being technology orphans, little else will entertain in this rather bland tale. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-199818-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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