A beautifully realized and delightful celebration of night and sunrise.



A young narrator says goodnight to his cat, Sylvie, who later wakes him to beckon him to an adventure in the early hours.

In Gerstein’s pen, ink, and acrylic art against gray paper, the night world of hallway, sleeping family, front walk, and garden is recognizable—yet everything is shadowed and quiet. When child and cat step out of the house, a stippling of bright stars across the night sky echoes the sweeping Milky Way reproduced on the endpapers. Gerstein’s darkness has softness and depth: here the night world is benign, and for all its strangeness, it is simply, though possibly magically, different. The narrator hears animal voices expressing expectation (“It’s almost here”); he speaks with his cat and with a porcupine on his front lawn. He hears the increasing volume of birdsong; the sky pales with light; a bear in the shadows slips away as the dawn arrives. Children lucky enough to experience a summer night in the country—or even the suburbs—without artificial light may get to experience this arrival of early morning, which has its own fanfare: at first mysterious, then spectacular, bold, bright. Gerstein’s morning sky practically sings its own hymn. Everything in the young protagonist’s world looks different in the daytime: the front walkway, bright roses, and sunflowers.

A beautifully realized and delightful celebration of night and sunrise. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-18822-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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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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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.


Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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