Captures the dual nature of the feline friend, often “bad” but always your buddy.


Every sailor needs a cat—but what to do with seven bad ones?!

“Today I put on / my boots and my coat, / and seven bad cats / jumped into my boat.” One eats from the little sailor’s lobster pots, and two others snooze on the oars. Three pester crabs while hanging from the gunwale, and four keep stealing the poor sailor’s gloves. Five claw the sails to ribbons, and when the sea gets rough, six get sick in a bucket. When the boat capsizes, throwing everyone into the sea, readers learn this sailor can’t swim! “Fourteen small paws / lifted me in their grip, / and seven good cats / rescued me to my ship!” And counting back down from there, those bad cats prove themselves pretty perfect pussycat pals. Bonneau’s debut as author/illustrator is a rhymed counting tale starring a rosy-cheeked white sailor of indeterminate gender in a yellow slicker and their seven cats colored red, orange, yellow, white, black, blue, and purple. The rhymed couplets roll like the waves, and the watercolor-and-ink illustrations, mostly full-bleed, double-page spreads, are pale, simple, and charming. The kitties’ curves as they leap and pounce (and play with everything) and the young sailor’s emotions are deftly displayed in just a few lines.

Captures the dual nature of the feline friend, often “bad” but always your buddy. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5710-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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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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