Stilted but enchantingly illustrated.



A charming pig wishes to be every animal but himself in this rhyming board book from debut author Orion and veteran illustrator Gallegos (The Santa Thief, 2017).

One summer morning, Ernie the pig is distracted from his mud puddle by a beautiful butterfly. He asks, quite politely, if she would teach him how to fly, but she calls him silly and tells him to “rejoice in the little things.” Ernie mopes down to the water where he sees fish swimming. He asks them to teach him how to swim and is similarly rebuffed. When he sees two squirrels climbing, he doesn’t even bother to ask them; he just wishes he could play in the trees like they do. But happily, when his fellow pigs call him back to the mud puddle, he joins in the fun. The theme of being happy with your own gifts is reminiscent of Leo Lionni’s classic Fish Is Fish, and readers will chuckle at Ernie’s imagined pictures of a pig with butterfly wings, a fish tail, and a squirrel body, delightfully conjured by Gallegos. Many of the rhyming couplets, however, are a stretch: flutter/flower, boy/cry, dream/swim, piggy/tizzy, etc. Young readers drawn to the pictures and old enough to read independently may not be bothered, but children learning how to rhyme may find these reaches off-putting. The book also offers an augmented reality app (not reviewed) to enhance Gallegos’s colorful illustrations.

Stilted but enchantingly illustrated.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9969264-0-9

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Augpix Ventures LLC

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 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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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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