A classic, traditional tale of heroine, villain, and hero—perhaps too traditional.



In this British picture-book melodrama, a dancing mouse named Marguerite is bullied by the rat Randolph and eventually rescued by the shy but heroic mouse Benjamin.

A calligraphic letter B starts off the descriptive text: “Benjamin lived at the bottom of the tallest steeple in the cathedral yard….Marguerite lived next to the little fountain….Every day Benjamin watched Marguerite dancing around the fountain. He longed to be friends with her but Benjamin was shy and didn’t dare. So Marguerite danced alone.” When Randolph, whose eyes are “as black as oil,” dances with Marguerite, it is only because he is scheming to have the fountain to himself. When Randolph banishes Marguerite to a tiny space in the old sewer, Benjamin—with some assistance from Marguerite—finds and realizes his own courage and ingenuity. The artwork is priceless: watercolors that accurately reflect all the rodents’ emotions and show well-conceived backgrounds. Unfortunately, they draw on tired tropes of color: villainous bully Randolph is black; dainty, beautiful Marguerite is white; timid Benjamin is light brown. This combines with the antiquated maiden-in-need-of-rescue storyline to reinforce attitudes and associations that need to be put in the past. At times, the busy layouts make following the text sequence difficult, which distracts from the high drama that provides a primer on bullying.

A classic, traditional tale of heroine, villain, and hero—perhaps too traditional. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-857337-97-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Hutton Grove

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

  • Caldecott Honor Book


Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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

Did you like this book?