A sweet celebration of the imagination.


Inattention results in a potential domestic tragedy in this German import.

Andrew is so busy drawing a treasure map, he really does not hear what Mommy says about delivering the package in the hall to their upstairs neighbors. So when he finally gets to the package, he figures it is for him and opens it. It’s a large stuffed elephant! Its name is Timbo, and it speaks to him! They immediately go on many adventures: climbing mountains, hiking through jungles and dancing in the valleys. This is all illustrated in double-page, full-bleed spreads in which the furniture and artifacts in Andrew’s home transmute themselves into mountains and jungles and valleys, just as they do in children’s play everywhere. When Mommy finds Andrew, she tells him gently that the package was meant for Louise upstairs. Louise is delighted to get her present, but Andrew is heartbroken to leave Timbo behind. His melancholy is solved very neatly when a barefoot Louise comes downstairs to announce that Timbo misses Andrew, and the three have adventures together. Browns and golds dominate the pictures, and children and elephant have button-dot eyes and, for the children, comma noses. Perhaps in keeping with this aesthetic, the faux–hand-lettered type is, unfortunately, small. The household is as much a character as the stuffie and kids, its cozy accoutrements overlaid with Andrew’s (and Timbo’s) imaginations.

A sweet celebration of the imagination. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4413-0841-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peter Pauper Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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. 28, 2018

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A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity.


From the Fly Guy series

Buzz and his buzzy buddy open a spinoff series of nonfiction early readers with an aquarium visit.

Buzz: “Like other fish, sharks breathe through gills.” Fly Guy: “GILLZZ.” Thus do the two pop-eyed cartoon tour guides squire readers past a plethora of cramped but carefully labeled color photos depicting dozens of kinds of sharks in watery settings, along with close-ups of skin, teeth and other anatomical features. In the bite-sized blocks of narrative text, challenging vocabulary words like “carnivores” and “luminescence” come with pronunciation guides and lucid in-context definitions. Despite all the flashes of dentifrice and references to prey and smelling blood in the water, there is no actual gore or chowing down on display. Sharks are “so cool!” proclaims Buzz at last, striding out of the gift shop. “I can’t wait for our next field trip!” (That will be Fly Guy Presents: Space, scheduled for September 2013.)

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity. (Informational easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-50771-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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