Readers will enjoy their time with these two: another satisfying friendship adventure.



The droll dog-and-hedgehog duo is back, this time going to school.

As per usual, Buddy the dog is very matter-of-fact, naïve, and literal, while his prickly friend, Earl, sometimes lets his imagination take over reality. When Meredith (their white human owner) announces the two will be attending school, Earl is excited, since “Getting an education is the first step to achieving my dream of becoming a dentist.” Buddy doesn’t think hedgehogs can be dentists but is thrilled to learn that he too can be anything he wants with the right education. The two prepare themselves with a “nutritious breakfast” of Dad’s slipper and then gather some supplies. In the classroom, Earl is miffed at the other students, who not only refuse to return his greeting, but won’t even look at him. “They are only toys,” Buddy tells him. Then Meredith’s called away, and she leaves Earl in charge: “I’ve always wanted to be a teacher.” Buddy excels at Earl’s lessons in sniffing, tail-chasing, and itch-scratching and is the enthusiastic recipient of an earnestly presented special student award. Sookocheff extends the tongue-in-cheek humor of the text in the gouache-and-Photoshop illustrations, Earl’s simple dot eyes and line mouth expressing his every emotion and Buddy the epitome of a dog, simple but loving.

Readers will enjoy their time with these two: another satisfying friendship adventure. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55498-927-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 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 lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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