A “stupendiferous, cosmically colossal” good time for all.


Working to recruit a walrus as a playmate, a small boy living near the ocean serendipitously discovers a new friend.

When young Wendell spies a walrus-shaped cloud, he imagines having a real walrus named Roger. They would tell jokes, ride bikes, climb trees, build forts, fly kites, draw, and “have the most stupendiferous, cosmically colossal best time of their lives.” After a trip to Uncle Zed’s Pet Emporium fails to produce a walrus, Wendell resorts to tossing a bottle with his personal invitation to a walrus into the ocean. On an adjoining cliff, Wendell notices a boy named Morrell tossing his own letter to a whale into the waves. Waiting by the ocean, Wendell and Morrell eventually decide “to pass the time together,” eventually doing everything they’d imagined doing with a walrus and a whale. Sprightly, lighthearted illustrations capture Wendell’s infectious energy and enthusiasm in loose pencil outlines against pale, expansive watercolor washes denoting hillsides, ocean, and sky. Humorous vignettes of the ever optimistic Wendell playing with an imaginary Roger, oblivious to the impracticalities of a walrus biking, tree-climbing, fort-building, kite-flying, or drawing, prove highly amusing, while scenes of Wendell, too absorbed in his walrus quest to notice Morrell’s parallel whale hunt, suggest the upbeat finale. Wendell has red hair and pale skin; Morrell has tightly curled black hair and brown skin.

A “stupendiferous, cosmically colossal” good time for all. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62779-602-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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Safe to creep on by.


Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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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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