Competent but profoundly uninspiring. (Picture book. 3-7)



When Zogby, a big, brown bear, applies for a job as delivery bear—a job he has wanted since he was a “tiny cub”—the hiring manager, a small, purple rabbit, says, “You just don’t have the Fluffy Tail Cookies look.”

It is striking for a picture book to open with this sort of reference; the manager seems to be outright discriminating against Zogby. Still, Zogby pleads for a chance, and the manager gives him a one-day trial. His clients are terrified of Zogby once they see him: Mrs. Rabbit and Mr. Beaver each scream, “AAHHHHH!!” upon opening their doors. Zogby alters his appearance after these rejections, donning bunny ears and a fluffy tail. He finally reminds himself that he is “special” and makes up a song to go along with his newfound confidence: “I am big, and I am hairy! / But I promise, I’m not scary!” Mrs. Mole and Mr. Porcupine then accept his cookie deliveries with grace and hospitality. It’s a peculiar resolution to an awkward book: The animals in this story are prejudiced against Zogby’s appearance, but it is up to Zogby to ameliorate their fears. The burden, it seems, lies with the oppressed rather than the oppressor, making this a very unprogressive tale. Sordo’s bright, cartoonish illustrations are zippy but can’t mitigate its central flaw.

Competent but profoundly uninspiring. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1532-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet