A clever, new rhyming spin on the old moral about judging individuals by their appearances.


A misunderstood crocodile only wants lemonade but his sharp teeth keep scaring off the humans who could serve him some in this debut picture book.

All a friendly crocodile wants is some refreshing lemonade. He finds a lemonade stand, but the kids running it are so terrified, they flee in panic Still without lemonade, the crocodile drives to a fancy restaurant, where again he is feared because of his looks. Finally, at a burger joint, he orders lemonade from a distracted cashier. When the crocodile has a chance to save the day, the cashier realizes that there’s something good behind the reptile’s startling appearance. The moral of not judging people (or animals) by how they look is a familiar one, but this tale has an ingenious twist. Crocodiles are dangerous, after all—especially for a thief trying to rob a store serving lemonade. Ripley’s short phrases, consistent scansion and rhymes, and witty repeating phrases invite young readers to join in. The people who run from the reptile “see his pointy teeth / and not the crocodile” and decide that “getting eaten by a crocodile / does not sound very fun.” The author’s illustrations are reminiscent of social commentary cartoons with their exaggerated caricatures, which work well alongside the rhymes. Humans of several ages, sizes, and skin tones are depicted, and a gag about the young cashier who’s glued to his cellphone will make adult readers chuckle.

A clever, new rhyming spin on the old moral about judging individuals by their appearances.

Pub Date: July 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5255-7459-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: March 20, 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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Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed.


If you thought having a unicorn as a pet was hard, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tried owning a dragon.

The young protagonist of You Don’t Want a Unicorn! (2017) is back, and they clearly haven’t learned their lesson. Now they’ve wished for a pet dragon. As the intrusive narrator is quick to point out, everything about it seems fun at the beginning. However, it’s not long before the doglike dragon starts chasing squirrels, drooling, pooping (ever wondered where charcoal comes from?), scooting its butt across the floor (leaving fire and flames behind), and more. By now, the dragon has grown too huge to keep, so the child (who appears white and also to live alone) wishes it away and settles for a cute little hamster instead. A perfect pet…until it finds a stray magical cupcake. Simple cartoon art and a surfeit of jokes about defecation suggest this book will find an appreciative audience. The dragon/dog equivalences are cute on an initial read, but they may not be strong enough to convince anyone to return. Moreover, a surprising amount of the plot hinges on having read the previous book in this series (it’s the only way readers will know that cupcakes are unicorn poop).

Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53580-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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