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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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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