How does life look from inside a goldfish bowl? Perhaps more intriguing for creative Bernadette than for circling Paul in...



A banana is a boat and a spoon’s a fish in this sequence of charming, painterly oil illustrations that study the dodgy perspectives of two goldfish in a bowl.

Paul has not seen the world. He swims around his fishbowl, maxing out his circle options: big, little, left to right, top to bottom. One day, a more cosmopolitan, clearly more imaginative goldfish named Bernadette is dropped into his bowl. “What are you doing?” she asks. As she encourages Paul to stop circling and observe the colorful realm beyond the glass, readers peer out too, squinting to visualize her delightful distortions. A big blue teapot pouring tea into teacups is a “not too dangerous” elephant, Bernadette proclaims: “But you must not disturb her while she is feeding her babies.” A bottle of orange juice (“From the Isle of Concentrate”) and a milk carton comprise the city of “Milkwaukee.” At first, this book seems to be about how even the most constrained worlds expand with the power of imagination. But since Paul never really gets the hang of it, the story, in the end, mostly just underscores Bernadette’s irresistible charms: “Now Paul goes around Bernadette.” Fair enough—sometimes that’s how it goes.

How does life look from inside a goldfish bowl? Perhaps more intriguing for creative Bernadette than for circling Paul in this lovely, debatably romantic ode in oils. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6130-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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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 sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.


Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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