Fans of these sweet squirrels will devour this highly a-peel-ing volume.


From the Norma and Belly series , Vol. 2

Four brown squirrels have an accidental adventure at an apple farm.

When wiry, glasses-wearing Gramps is accidentally transported to the Crunchy Acres Apple-Processing Plant due to a snafu at the farmers market, it’s up to triangular Norma, thimble-shaped Belly, and peanut-shaped Little Bee to save the day. The trio is nothing if not resourceful, recruiting a friendly pigeon and the unnamed donut-truck operator from series opener Donut Feed the Squirrels (2020) to find them information about the apple farm and hitching a ride on a school bus that is taking kids to a field trip there. Arriving at Crunchy Acres, they must dodge apple-corers and outsmart factory line workers to find Gramps. Once reunited, the quartet makes it safely out of the apple factory intact only to realize they have landed in a pie at a pie-eating contest! Luckily they are rescued by Helen, an Asian-presenting student from the field trip, and all is well. Song’s quiet illustration style is consistently engaging but never overstimulating, featuring a natural watercolor palette, soft lines, and plenty of white space. Human characters, all secondary or background, come in a range of racial presentations and body shapes.

Fans of these sweet squirrels will devour this highly a-peel-ing volume. (Graphic fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984895-85-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Random House Graphic

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.


Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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