Adoptees may appreciate the message; introverts may want to look elsewhere.


Once Henrietta the elephant’s quiet is interrupted, there may be no going back to being satisfied with solitude.

Henrietta’s a classic introvert. She loves her Darjeeling and the morning paper. She loves swimming below the noisy geese at the lake and savoring the peace underwater. But one day, the elephant gets “a little too lost” in her thoughts, and she bonks her head on a piling. She bandages the “goose egg” she feels on her head with her trunk. (In-the-know listeners will be screaming with delight.) Henrietta’s brought up short when her egg hatches and she finds herself a “Mama!” When she is unable to return the imprinted baby to the nest, Henrietta takes her in, but her peace and solitude are shattered, and that only worsens as Goose grows. Finally, the clever elephant uses a brush and paint to transform her head into a mama goose, and she teaches the bird all she needs to know about being a goose. Goose flies off in the fall, but Henrietta’s quiet is now emptiness…until Goose returns with goslings of her own. Wong’s watercolor, colored pencil, gouache, and Photoshop illustrations are delightfully spare, keeping the focus on the expressive elephant and her dilemma. Henrietta is the only character with personality; Goose (and her goslings) is merely cute. While a sweet tale, it carries with it the rather overbearing assumption that introverts are, unbeknownst to them, probably actually lonely.

Adoptees may appreciate the message; introverts may want to look elsewhere. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-553-51157-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.


A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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