A sweetly told animal story of loss, danger, and reunion.




An adopted ferret settles into his new home but misses his buddy in this debut picture book.

Chubby and Coco are ferrets and best friends, spending their time playing together. But one day, Coco vanishes. Chubby doesn’t understand why and misses her terribly. Chubby’s owner, Mark, no longer has time to care for him and asks his brother, Jeffrey, to adopt him, which he’s glad to do. The young man sets up everything a ferret needs, and soon Chubby is eating (of course), playing, going for walks, and snuggling with Jeffrey. But he still misses Coco. One day, Chubby slips out of the apartment and tries looking for his old friend, but he’s scared by bullying geese in a nearby park. Jeffrey rescues and reassures Chubby. When he goes on vacation, Jeffrey leaves Chubby with his father, John—who, it turns out, has been taking care of Coco. The ferrets are overjoyed to see each other again, and when Jeffrey returns, both animals come home with him, happily reunited. Abrams includes photographs of the actual ferrets that inspired this work, which give a good sense of their personalities, as with Chubby’s horrified expression when surrounded by geese. The book subtly teaches children about responsible pet ownership, which includes relocating furry friends when necessary, searching immediately for lost animals, and trying to keep bonded pairs together. Children might better relate to younger human protagonists, but that’s a quibble.

A sweetly told animal story of loss, danger, and reunion.

Pub Date: July 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4120-7294-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Trafford

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2017

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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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Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

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How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.

Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers’ passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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