A holiday tie-in that fails to deliver.


From the I Am Otter series

Garton continues his popular series about roly-poly Otter (I Am Otter, 2014, etc.) with this simple story about the joys of eating Easter candy and sharing (or not) with others.

Otter (established as a female in previous stories) lives a childlike life with her white, adult owner, Otter Keeper, shown only in partial glimpses of legs or an arm. The other characters are Otter’s beloved, inanimate toys: a pig, a giraffe, and a limp teddy bear with X’s for eyes. On Easter morning, Otter gobbles up all the candy before breakfast even though she is told to share with her stuffed-animal friends. Feeling guilty, she transforms herself into the Easter Otter and prepares an elaborate Easter egg hunt. Candy-bright colors against white backgrounds capture Otter’s antics and expressions, leading up to a detailed, double-page spread of Otter’s backyard. The stuffed animals seem especially lifeless in this scene, lying flat on the ground until Otter drags them around to find the hidden eggs. In an unsatisfying conclusion, Otter states that the stuffed animals decided to “share” their eggs with her, and all the eggs are shown in a box labeled “Otter’s Eggs.” While this may be intended as wry humor, Otter’s selfish attitude and self-satisfied declaration that she’s “saved Easter” give this story a sour flavor rather than the lighthearted, humorous sweetness that made previous Otter stories successful.

A holiday tie-in that fails to deliver. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-236667-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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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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As ephemeral as a valentine.


Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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