A madcap miniodyssey sure to thrill readers.



This little worm really wants an apple.

Sadly, Toto is way down on the ground, and the apple hangs way up from a tree. What’s a worm to do? Spotting a bird flying nearby, Toto gets an idea. With the help of a stick decoy painted earthworm-pink, Toto tricks the bird and hitches a ride on its back. That apple is as good as Toto’s, it seems. Yet triumph is fleeting: the unlucky little worm ends up in the wrong tree. Even worse, the apple's now farther away than ever. Another idea pops up, however, when Toto sees a squirrel. By now, readers should know what to expect. Still, Lavoie’s sparse text unfurls the story at a lively pace, encouraging fast page turns while focusing on Toto’s actions. The book offers ample opportunities for readers to speculate on the action all the way through. Uncluttered gouache pictures full of open space and large, solid shapes also make this Québecois import an easygoing read. The star, of course, is Toto, who expresses boundless optimism via a pair of communicative eyes. After a few fruitless attempts, the plucky worm ends up right where it started. Soon, a young child obtains the coveted apple, dropping it carelessly when distracted by an airplane. “Toto knows that it’s now or never.” An unexpected ending reaches new levels of silliness.

A madcap miniodyssey sure to thrill readers. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-07148-7251-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Phaidon

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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