As Delphine and Beatrice ride off atop two giraffes, readers of this quiet story will savor their new friendship.


An orphaned servant girl whose singing assuages her loneliness discovers the transformative power of compassion.

Set in a queen’s palace in “the wild savannah,” this gentle tale features folkloric motifs and a “kindness prevails” message. Delphine’s already-exhausting workdays worsen when Queen Theodora’s niece, who doesn’t get on with her new stepmother, comes to live at the palace. Princess Beatrice is cruel, blaming Delphine for her own malicious actions. Singing out her loneliness one night, Delphine is surprised by gentle giraffes. Dipping their heads through her bedroom windows, they beckon her to a nighttime stroll. Tiny Delphine, perched between one giraffe’s ears, marvels at the moonlit vista dotted with trees, zebras and more giraffes. Later, when Delphine is mistakenly deposited into Beatrice’s room rather than her own, the princess throws a tantrum at her intrusion. Delphine, spying a bedside portrait of Beatrice’s deceased mother, has just time enough to share her ready empathy and a helpful song before guards imprison her for her infraction. Beatrice pays it forward: The queen, commanding Delphine to sing, is profoundly moved by the girl’s ability and appoints Delphine her singer. Kraegel creates minutely inked watercolor elements—trees, grasslands—as backdrops for simply contoured humans with brown skin, naturally textured hair and bright clothing.

As Delphine and Beatrice ride off atop two giraffes, readers of this quiet story will savor their new friendship. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7001-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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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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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...


Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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