Characters seamlessly work both as pets with animal traits and siblings with recognizable new-student fears.


From the Peanut, Butter, and Crackers series , Vol. 2

A puppy has a rough first day of what’s effectively doggy kindergarten in a comical graphic adventure.

Peanut the floppy-eared puppy lives with Butter the cat and Crackers the dog. Crackers is excited to teach Peanut all about doggy school, where you learn to be a good dog (good dogs get treats). After Peanut and Crackers leave their crate at Barktown Doggy School, though, Crackers and the “middles” are separated from Peanut and the “littles.” Tiny Peanut is an easy victim for a pack of bully puppies (many of whom wear dog clothing of varying degrees of silliness). Butter and Crackers, upset by Peanut’s clear distress, are determined to help the youngest member of their “fur family.” The trio all get drawn into separate adventures, but when chance brings the aspiring rescuers together with Peanut in the pen with the big dogs, they collaborate to save one another. The cartoon illustrations are a good match for both the dogs’ exuberance and for the cat’s humorously careful posture of ennui. The straightforward linear panels, colored by Efird, will be easy to decode, but the switching point of view among Peanut, Butter, and Crackers as they have their separate adventures will be more of a challenge for younger readers. Final art not seen.

Characters seamlessly work both as pets with animal traits and siblings with recognizable new-student fears. (Graphic fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11746-0

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 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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Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow,...


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Can Gerald and Piggie’s friendship withstand the friendly overtures of Brian Bat?

When Snake informs Gerald that Piggie is playing with Brian Bat, he is at first complacent. Brian is “nice,” he observes; Snake concurs—after all, he says, “Brian is my Best Friend!” Their mutual reflection that Piggie and Brian “must be having a super-duper fun time!” turns, however, to paranoia when they realize that if their best pals “are having that much fun together, then… / …maybe they do not need us” (that last is printed in teeny-tiny, utterly demoralized type). Gerald and Snake dash/slither to put an end to the fun. Their fears are confirmed when the two new buddies tell them they have “been playing BEST FRIEND GAMES!”—which, it turns out, means making drawings of their respective best friends, Gerald and Snake. Awww. While the buildup to the friends’ confrontation is characteristically funny, there’s a certain feeling of anticlimax to the story’s resolution. How many young children, when playing with a new friend, are likely to spend their time thinking of the friends that they are not playing with? This is unfortunate, as the emotions that Gerald and Snake experience are realistic and profound, deserving of more than a platitudinous, unrealistic response.

Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow, color-coded speech bubbles, hilarious body language—except an emotionally satisfying ending. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7958-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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