Best friends don’t have to do everything together, but they are there for one another, and Tiny and Penelope exemplify that.


Exuberant Penelope and shy and retiring Tiny, the most oddball of friends, are back, this time trying to decide what they can do together in the school talent show.

Fittingly, the book opens with Penelope letting out a loud “YIPPEE” in her excitement over the news and Tiny shushing her: “You’re making a scene.” Though Tiny has learned his lesson to let Penelope be her own hippo, the uptight mouse is still not comfortable being a part of what he sees as her extravagant ideas for a best-friends talent-show act: dance (ballet? Hula? Hip-hop?), a skit (“Rapunzel”? “Jack and the Beanstalk”? “Little Red Riding Hood”?), a circus act (trapeze? Clowns? Lion tamer?). But his idea—the chorus—just isn’t spectacular enough for Penelope. In the end, Tiny suggests that the two be in the show, just in different acts, and they can clap for each other. And when Penelope’s “ballet-Rapunzel-trapeze act” goes awry, her best friend is there to rescue her as if it were part of the act all along. Cornelison’s illustrations play up the size difference between the two friends as well as Tiny’s reticence versus Penelope’s over-the-top verve. Tiny’s thought bubbles are hysterical as he imagines lifting the hippo in a pas de deux or having her try to be the center of attention in the chorus.

Best friends don’t have to do everything together, but they are there for one another, and Tiny and Penelope exemplify that. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4847-1491-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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

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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

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