A creative and enjoyable interpretation of a timely issue.


Animal pals participate in activities and jobs that require masks in this picture book.

Billick’s story follows a pig, an elephant, and a mouse wearing masks in various situations. The author explains that in addition to being worn for fun, costume purposes, or practical reasons (to help people sleep), masks are used in all sorts of professions. The author discusses types of masks that are worn for particular jobs and why they are necessary. For example, “Chemists wear masks to protect their eyes, just in case their experiments go awry.” Other mask wearers mentioned here include baseball catchers, scuba divers, doctors, superheroes, and more. Finally, the book touches on the importance of donning masks (although not explicitly mentioned in the story, they help reduce the spread of Covid-19). The tale implores readers to wear their own masks, clearly explaining how they “help keep everyone healthy. It is something simple that we can do, to help protect me and help protect you.” In this engaging and inventive story, the significance of mask wearing is portrayed in a way that will be relatable to young readers. Billick’s illustrations are hand-drawn and have a simple quality. They mostly show the friendly-looking animals in a wide range of mask-wearing scenarios. For example, when the tale notes, “Some masks cover your entire head,” the elephant is depicted wearing an astronaut suit and helmet in space.

A creative and enjoyable interpretation of a timely issue.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73569-150-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2020

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An unabashed love letter from mother.


From the Little Pookie series

A sweet celebration of the bond between a mother and her Pookie.

The eighth installment in this always charming series eschews the episodic drama and silliness of earlier outing such as Spooky Pookie (2015) in favor of a mom’s-eye-view celebration of her child and the time they spend together. There is, of course, nothing wrong with drama and silliness. But while the lack of conflict and plot in favor of unapologetic sentiment makes this book a quick read, that doesn’t make it any less endearing. The rhymed verse captures a mother’s wonder as she observes the many facets of her child’s personality: “Ah, Pookie. My little one. My funny one. My child. // Sometimes you are quiet. Sometimes you are wild.” On the simple joys of shared moments, she notes, “I love to go walking with you by my side. / I love when we sing when we go for a ride. // And I love just to watch as you think and you play. / The way that you are is a wonderful way.” Paired with author/illustrator Boynton’s irresistible renderings of a porcine mommy and her playful, snuggly little piglet, the result is impossible to fault. Whether quietly reading, running in a tiger suit, singing with mom in the car, ears flapping in the breeze, or enjoying the safety of mom’s embrace, Pookie’s appeal continues unabated.

An unabashed love letter from mother. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3723-4

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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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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