His owner’s gift of a top hat and cape that exactly match the ones he’s lost along the way gives the narrative a circular...


Hamweenie the marmalade cat makes good on his desire to escape the confines of his everyday life.

Not much has changed in this follow-up to Bowman’s earlier, decidedly quirky depiction of this pampered yet disaffected pet in The Amazing Hamweenie (2012). Muted colors, odd angles, and just slightly off-brand names crowd the pen-and-ink–and-watercolor illustrations, while the deadpan narration once again slyly contradicts the action shown. Hamweenie’s outsized ego finds him daydreaming of stardom while he’s standing in his litter box in the closet. Meanwhile, his actual existence is almost as far-fetched as his imaginary adventures. He claims to follow “a strict diet” but is shown gorging on pizza, fast food, and sweet snacks. A circus poster on the refrigerator door prompts him to action, and he handily escapes down the laundry chute and out through a basement window. A quick (if unlikely) bus ride later, Hamweenie arrives at the Darnum and Dailey circus, where he (mis)interprets every encounter as a reflection of his talent and star status. Narrowly escaping being eaten by a variety of animals, he’s nonetheless nonplussed to be scooped up and toted back home. The only thing that’s changed from the first outing is the setting.

His owner’s gift of a top hat and cape that exactly match the ones he’s lost along the way gives the narrative a circular feel that seems quite fitting for this repetitive outing. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-25689-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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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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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...


A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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