An adventure in interactive reading, like Hervé Tullet’s Press Here (2011) but with a plot.



Doorways traced with a fingertip become die-cut portals on following pages as O’Byrne invites readers to help an errant crocodile find a suitable home.

Starting off in darkness, the cartoon illustrations are “illuminated” by a hand clap and a page turn to reveal a big, surly-looking crocodile named Carter—who, as a sign indicates, needs help to find his way home. Tracing a circle on the facing page and thinking of a wet place lands the green grumbler in a stormy ocean. Whoops! How about a better habitat? As Carter the croc is a hefty sort, “pushing” and “jiggling” is also sometimes needed to get him through each successive entryway, and readers can also blow him dry along with other participatory actions. After landing in snow and in desert sand, Carter at last fetches up in a comfy tropical river. Aaah—his snarl becomes a blissful smile. In one oddly gender-bending early scene he clutches a pair of seashells to his (featureless) chest and lets seaweed dangle over his (equally featureless) crotch. Younger readers, at least, will probably just find that funny and follow the instructions to keep tracing, pushing, and, finally, bidding him, as well as the meerkat and other companions who have hitched rides along the way, loud goodbyes (for now).

An adventure in interactive reading, like Hervé Tullet’s Press Here (2011) but with a plot. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9634-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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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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The goose is all that’s serious here…and that not for long.

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Bet you can’t make this goose smile, no matter how hard you try.

TV personality Kimmel’s first foray into picture books presents a feathered grump with a scowl that is proof against any kind of foolery: Try putting a chicken on her head, dressing her as a moose, or even trucking in a snail pizza—this goose won’t crack. Breaking now and again into verse, he challenges readers to give it a try in a foil mirror: “Cluck like a chicken / moo like a cow / be doofy, be goofy / any way you know how”—and sure enough, eventually a grin bursts out to replace the grimace despite a multipage struggle to hold it in, and off prances the goose in a pair of (gender-bending) tighty whities. Yes, she’s become “a SILLY goose (thanks to you),” the narrator proclaims, and what’s more, “YOU are a silly kid.” A hand-lettered narrative in block printing big enough to take up most of the space accompanies thick-lined cartoon views of a goosey glare that dares readers to crank up the volume, and the last page turn reveals a final tweak that may add a few grown-up voices to the younger chorus of giggles.

The goose is all that’s serious here…and that not for long. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-70775-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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