Sure to inspire a rousing storytime, this is also likely to encourage readers to explore the world around them.


A sing-along inspired by the sights and sounds of a pond.

When Jo visits her grandfather’s farm, she observes the plants and animals she finds by the pond, sketching them so she can share them with Old MacDonald later. She first notices the reeds, and the sound they make: “Jo MacDonald saw a pond, / E-I-E-I-O. / And in that pond she saw some reeds, / E-I-E-I-O. / With a swish-swish here.…” The familiar tune starts on page one and never misses a beat, begging kids to participate. Indeed, the rollicking atmosphere during a sharing of this book will likely be in marked contrast to what is happening inside it. As Jo settles in to watch, her quietness and stillness pay off as some animals gradually emerge: fish, frogs, ducks, a bird, a few coons, some deer and a dragonfly. Backmatter includes Jo’s final sketch (delightfully childlike) as well a paragraph about each animal, a list of books about ponds and some activities that can help youngsters be a naturalist like Jo. Observant readers will notice the clever design of the illustrations that hides the last-mentioned animal and the next one within the spread. Bryant’s softly colored watercolor creatures echo Jo’s rosy-cheeked childhood innocence and have just a touch of expression in their faces.

Sure to inspire a rousing storytime, this is also likely to encourage readers to explore the world around them. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58469-150-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dawn Publications

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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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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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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