A deceptively simple tale guaranteed to tickle wee readers



Unexpected visitors interrupt Little Mole one cold winter night.

“Snuggling into her warm bed,” Little Mole hears knocking and discovers Frog, freezing on her doorstep. Just as Little Mole ensconces Frog on her sofa, she hears more knocking. One after another, her woodland friends arrive, seeking shelter from the snow. Wearing comfy nightcap, bathrobe, and slippers, unflappable Little Mole welcomes Squirrel, “shivering in the snow,” Badger, “soaked to the skin,” and cold Mama Chickadee and her babies. Then there’s more banging on the door, and Wolf unexpectedly bursts in, threatening to eat everyone. Fortunately, Badger orders all to attack Wolf, who’s quickly restrained and tethered. Unfazed, Little Mole brews her special soup just in time for more winter visitors. The repetitive device of Little Mole’s woodland friends arriving seriatim does not prepare readers for Wolf’s dramatic entrance unless they have observed his dark shadow ominously lurking outside, arousing suspicion. Watercolor illustrations use line and color to relay the cozy details of Little Mole’s warm, well-stocked burrow, in marked contrast to the dark, snowy, frigid outdoors. In the face of Wolf’s sinister snout and fangs, the friendly, familiar, readily identifiable shapes of Little Mole and friends prove reassuring.

A deceptively simple tale guaranteed to tickle wee readers . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-2-7338-6146-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Auzou Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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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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