Sometimes the best part of travel is telling the tale afterward.



In an interesting take on “The City Mouse and the Country Mouse,” Swede Thore tells the tale of one scribbly spot that vacates its host, a spotted and sedentary feline, for an adventure.

When Sammy wakes up with flu symptoms, she realizes that something is askew. One of her 500 spots is missing. She feels miserable, the kind of misery that can only be rectified by a cup of hot cocoa. Thore’s text in the uncredited translation is wryly funny, deftly unreeling the plot and defining its characters. Sammy chases it, but “that rebel spot was way too fast,” but then she realizes, “if that spot’s unhappy, why pursue it?” Each double-page spread bursts with details that will captivate young readers. Sammy’s knotted tail reflects how lifeless she feels while suffering from the flu. The tub’s claw feet look just like Sammy’s. Is that the missing spot hiding behind the toilet’s pedestal? Hearts appear on the curtains on the closing pages, as the two protagonists reunite. A midbook gatefold opens from a view of Sammy contentedly at home to show the adventures of the spot in 12 humorous panels—the spot finds itself on a dog, in a scoop of ice cream, winning a game of marbles, and even nestled up next to an éclair. Both spot and Sammy learn new things about themselves while the spot is AWOL and find out that, in the end, there really is no place like home.

Sometimes the best part of travel is telling the tale afterward. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3677-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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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 sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.


Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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