It’s hard being the biggest bunny in class. Always last in line and too tall for schoolyard games, Amelia spends her days alone by the fence “counting clouds,” “listening to the wind” and “thinking about important things.” Then, a new rabbit joins her homeroom. Through parallel storytelling, readers find that Susannah, a “peanut” of a hare, is also rejected for her size. Intrepidly, the “pip-squeak” heads for Amelia, who refuses to interact with the charmingly persistent Susannah. But when Miss Arugula announces Picture Day, the little rabbit cooks up a top-secret plan. Together the two outcasts dazzle their schoolmates, and a friendship blooms. The gouache paintings have a well-organized and pleasing structure. At times Russo uses the bunnies’ ears as arrows, guiding readers’ eyes across the page, while in other instances Amelia’s ears signal her emotional state. A vibrant, primary palette done in construction-paper hues will have a warm familiarity for readers young and old. Readers will fall for feisty Susannah’s innocent determination and relate to Amelia’s self-conscious hesitancy. This tale proves there’s room for one more opposites-attract book on the shelf. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-375-84463-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2009

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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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Each time the witch loses something in the windy weather, she and her cat are introduced to a new friend who loves flying on her broom. The fluid rhyming and smooth rhythm work together with one repetitive plot element focusing young attention spans until the plot quickens. (“Is there room on the broom for a blank such as me?”) When the witch’s broom breaks, she is thrown in to danger and the plot flies to the finish. Her friends—cat, dog, frog, and bird—are not likely to scare the dragon who plans on eating the witch, but together they form a formidable, gooey, scary-sounding monster. The use of full-page or even page-and-a-half spreads for many of the illustrations will ensure its successful use in story times as well as individual readings. The wart-nosed witch and her passengers make magic that is sure to please. Effective use of brilliant colors set against well-conceived backgrounds detail the story without need for text—but with it, the story—and the broom—take off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2557-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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