A sweet friendship, lovingly and gently portrayed.



From the Little Hedgehog series

Kindhearted Little Hedgehog worries about his friends in the aftermath of a huge blizzard.

The latest effort by the prolific Butler finds Little Hedgehog contending with lots of snow. It’s the deepest and highest he’s ever seen, and he is exhausted after digging a path out of his house. On his way to check on his friend Mouse and her babies, he tumbles and slides into a very deep snowdrift, and no matter how hard he tries he can’t get out. He puts his red hat on his walking stick and waves it until Rabbit spots it and pulls him out. They join forces to check on Mouse, and each time they find themselves in another dangerous predicament, there’s another friend to help. Eventually, Little Hedgehog, Rabbit, Fox, and Badger all help Mouse dig out, and, carrying her babies in that indestructible red hat, they head for Badger’s warm house and a fine dinner. The prickly hero is loving, resourceful, brave, and compassionate, as is his circle of friends. Butler employs accessible language and syntax that, although a bit stiff, keeps the tale moving at a pace just right for its young audience, and all without sliding too close to whimsy and treacle. Macnaughton’s lovely, bright large-scale illustrations nicely capture the cute creatures’ charming personalities.

A sweet friendship, lovingly and gently portrayed. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58925-196-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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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 pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)


A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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