Simple and understated—and all the more enjoyable for it.


In the decidedly urban setting that Little Bird calls his own, he wakes up with a song—he always starts his day with a song—and looks for a puddle for a bath after the unpleasantness of the nighttime rain.

He finds the perfect puddle in a city park, but wait! A ball bounces in his puddle, but he eludes it. He goes back to his bath—and has a narrow escape again, when a little girl’s flip-flops make him skitter away. (The bliss on her face as she splashes in the puddle is worth noting.) When a dog (with collar and leash, as is proper) finds the puddle also, Little Bird decides it is time to find another place for his bath. And he does, too, has a blissful splash and wiggle in it, then settles down to sleep with a song—he always ends his day with a song. The cheery gouache and colored-pencil illustrations effortlessly convey a city in summer, with a multiethnic population, small stores and large buildings, buses and taxis, parkland and kids. Without stretching a point too far, the interconnectedness of nature and city, the consequences of action and play, the sounds and sense of an urban environment make for a really nice story whose words and images repay repeated readings.

Simple and understated—and all the more enjoyable for it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37014-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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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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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...


Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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