A good bet for dog lovers and for readers too young for the excellent, lengthier Thank You, Mr. Falker.



From the Madeline Finn series

A library dog helps a struggling reader.

Madeline doesn’t like to read: “Not books. Not magazines. Not even the menu on the ice cream truck.” But narrator Madeline doesn’t actually dislike reading; her aversion stems from her struggle. Madeline’s mind and mouth can’t figure out the words, and sadly, sometimes she’s mocked when she tries. Though she keeps trying, Madeline never gets the gold star her heart yearns for, instead receiving the “keep trying” heart. Papp’s soft pen-and-watercolor illustrations make it easy to empathize with the charming little white girl’s struggle. One day, Madeline’s mother (whose clear concern is shown via illustration, not text) takes her to read with library dogs. Madeline picks Bonnie, who looks “like a big, snowy polar bear” and is—along with the other library dogs—so adorable readers may attempt to hug the page. Reading to Bonnie helps Madeline finally achieve her goal of receiving a gold star for reading. Though it would have been nice to see a protagonist of color in a dog book, there is diversity in the supporting cast. The book does not mention learning disabilities, leaving readers to understand Madeline's difficulties as they choose.

A good bet for dog lovers and for readers too young for the excellent, lengthier Thank You, Mr. Falker. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-56145-910-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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 must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


School-age children encounter and overcome feelings of difference from their peers in the latest picture book from Woodson.

This nonlinear story centers on Angelina, with big curly hair and brown skin, as she begins the school year with a class share-out of summer travels. Text and illustrations effectively work together to convey her feelings of otherness as she reflects on her own summer spent at home: “What good is this / when others were flying,” she ponders while leaning out her city window forlornly watching birds fly past to seemingly faraway places. López’s incorporation of a ruler for a door, table, and tree into the illustrations creatively extends the metaphor of measuring up to others. Three other children—Rigoberto, a recent immigrant from Venezuela; a presumably Korean girl with her “too strange” lunch of kimchi, meat, and rice; and a lonely white boy in what seems to be a suburb—experience more-direct teasing for their outsider status. A bright jewel-toned palette and clever details, including a literal reflection of a better future, reveal hope and pride in spite of the taunting. This reassuring, lyrical book feels like a big hug from a wise aunt as she imparts the wisdom of the world in order to calm trepidatious young children: One of these things is not like the other, and that is actually what makes all the difference.

A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-24653-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet