For every kid or grownup who has ever been afraid of anything, Scaredy Squirrel is a delight in any format—but this...



An appealing little fraidy-squirrel leaves the predictable, safe life of his nut tree for an adventure into the terrifying unknown.

Scaredy Squirrel is so afraid of the outside world that he’d rather remain in his tree forever than risk running into killer bees, sharks or green Martians. And just in case something unexpected happens, he’s got a fully stocked emergency kit and a top-secret exit plan. Naturally, something unexpected does happen, and Scaredy Squirrel leaps out of his tree, with surprising and delightful results. Simple cartoon illustrations reflect a sophisticated use of perspective and page design. The low-key, droll narration is effective; it allows Scaredy Squirrel’s endearing character to take center stage. Navigation is achieved easily through a picture menu. Unfortunately, the iBooks experience lacks the freedom of an app. Double-tapping sometimes brings up the iBooks menu, sometimes zooms in or out and sometimes actually triggers something interactive. There is some text that is not narrated, and page turning is a little glitchy. It’s also priced at the iBooks standard $9.99, which is expensive compared to storybooks from the App Store. 

For every kid or grownup who has ever been afraid of anything, Scaredy Squirrel is a delight in any format—but this particular interface is not a significant improvement on good old paper. (iPad storybook app. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2011


Page Count: -

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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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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