Though the plot is accessible to the very young, its apocalyptic vision may not be.


Can a little boy and a big cat start a new society?

Luka huddles inside a large industrial pipe, surrounded by rubble that includes the top of the Statue of Liberty. It's "a strange world," Elliott tells readers. "There were no trees, no plants...and no animals." Except for the last tiger, crosshatched black and golden yellow against a smoky background of metal waste and grim skies. Luka rescues the tiger, whose paw is painfully caught in a tin can, and the tiger thanks him with a flower. A friendship is born, and the two begin some serious play. But a plane soars by trailing a big net; the tiger is captured and caged, and Luka can't get near him, so thick are the throngs of gaping people. Luka decides to hide in the tiger's old cave, where he finds a lush garden! Surely the people won't want to keep the tiger caged once they see it. Standing atop the tiger's cage, he shouts, "Follow me!" The people eagerly do, and, finding this verdant paradise, their despair turns to hope. "Please teach us," they implore the tiger, and for the first time since he was playing with Luka, the tiger smiles. Starkly evocative illustrations with effective use of color and minimal text convey Elliott's delicate fable of friendship and concern for posterity.

Though the plot is accessible to the very young, its apocalyptic vision may not be. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7459-6384-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lion/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2012

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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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Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed.


If you thought having a unicorn as a pet was hard, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tried owning a dragon.

The young protagonist of You Don’t Want a Unicorn! (2017) is back, and they clearly haven’t learned their lesson. Now they’ve wished for a pet dragon. As the intrusive narrator is quick to point out, everything about it seems fun at the beginning. However, it’s not long before the doglike dragon starts chasing squirrels, drooling, pooping (ever wondered where charcoal comes from?), scooting its butt across the floor (leaving fire and flames behind), and more. By now, the dragon has grown too huge to keep, so the child (who appears white and also to live alone) wishes it away and settles for a cute little hamster instead. A perfect pet…until it finds a stray magical cupcake. Simple cartoon art and a surfeit of jokes about defecation suggest this book will find an appreciative audience. The dragon/dog equivalences are cute on an initial read, but they may not be strong enough to convince anyone to return. Moreover, a surprising amount of the plot hinges on having read the previous book in this series (it’s the only way readers will know that cupcakes are unicorn poop).

Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53580-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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