A sweet if inessential affirmation of the pleasures of reading.



Yet another picture-book paean to the pleasure of reading.

Hedgehog, Rabbit, Fox, and Mouse are friends who live together and love stories. Every night they read the same worn-out storybook. Wouldn’t it be nice to find a new book? Off they set, armed against hunger with peanut-butter–and-jelly sandwiches. They soon find one under a bush, but written inside is “This book belongs to: Bear” and a strongly worded warning: “KEEP YOUR PAWS OFF!” Of course, they must return it. When they reach Bear’s house, he’s not at home, but an open window is an implicit invitation to all the animals to slip inside, where they find books everywhere! What follows next will be obvious to adults, but kids will enjoy the fairy-tale echo as Bear bellows, “WHO’S BEEN READING MY BOOKS?!” The interlopers step forward, and soon all the animals realize their mutual love of books makes for a cozy club and a happy ending: “books are wonderful to read alone, but even better when shared.” Even leaving aside the obvious parallel to “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” the simple storyline is not particularly original, very similar to Annie Silvestro and Tatjana Mai-Wyss’ Bunny’s Book Club (2017), among many others. Still, there’s just enough suspense and details for young listeners, and the heavy paper and charming illustrations make it suitable for storytimes.

A sweet if inessential affirmation of the pleasures of reading. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017


Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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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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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.


A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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