A serviceable contribution to cumulative-song collections or surprise-ending collections.



A familiar cumulative folk song gets a mild tweak.

This time, the setting is a lake floor. “There’s a hole in the log on the bottom of the lake”; “There’s a frog in the hole in the log on the bottom of the lake”; and so on. It’s better sung than recited, and musical notation can be found at the end. On the frog is a hair (one corkscrew curl growing upward), and then a fly on the hair, and then a gnat on the fly. The underwater atmosphere is dark green, with brown, beige, and lighter greens. Long’s acrylic-and–colored-pencil illustrations are an odd mix of styles: The frog is cartoony, especially when grinning and licking its lips in anticipation of a fly-gnat feast, whereas members of a school of goldfish are delicate and luminescent. The climax is a sudden “uh-oh. Chomp, snap, gulp!”—with an intriguing partial ambiguity about exactly who gets chomped. Throughout, a tiny snail and turtle provide wry counterpoint to the verse’s formal structure. The turtle offers commentary, sometimes amusing (when the song uses the lyric “hole,” he asks, “A whole what? It just looks empty to me”), sometimes confusing (he punnily grumps that someone must be “too cool for school” when, at that moment, the accused snail is joining a school of fish), and slapstick humor (“Dial 911! Turtle on its back! Emergency! Turtle freaking out!”).

A serviceable contribution to cumulative-song collections or surprise-ending collections. (musical notation, song lyrics) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-16399-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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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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

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