A slight story that’s more useful than it is satisfying


From the Animal Time series

With a loud “Eek!” an ostrich named Bird hides its head in the sand at every “peep.”

Elephant encourages ostrich to “Peek, Bird!” The originator of the “peep” turns out to be only the friendly Ape. This simple scenario is repeated when Sloth peeps, but when it’s a mouse that peeps, Elephant is the one crying, “EEEEEEK!” Now it’s Bird’s turn to encourage Elephant to “peek,” before all the animals play a game of hide-and-seek. In companion title Stop, Fox! the action focuses on the talkative Fox, who bothers Bird, Ape, and Cub (a bear) with incessant chatter. But Fox’s talking puts Sloth to sleep. The uncluttered layout in both titles is a plus, but the artwork is otherwise undistinguished. The simply rendered animals have a generic look that nevertheless may result in confusion. Ape, for instance, has a tail even though apes are tailless, and masked Sloth may well easily be initially mistaken for a raccoon. Bird has an ostrich’s characteristically luxuriant lashlike fringe at the eyes and is the only animal gendered female in the publisher copy (no characters are gendered in the text). The sentences are brief and repetitive, but the text’s brevity means that words may not be repeated frequently enough to be absorbed by the youngest readers. Hide and Peek uses just 17 words with three basic sentence patterns. The 30-word story in Stop, Fox! is more fully developed, with sentences and phrases repeated more frequently.

A slight story that’s more useful than it is satisfying . (Early reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-7208-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...


A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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