Yes, Fang, you’ll be fine with your fishy friend by your side.



A shark attends Mini Minnows Elementary with his best bud, a minnow, but his day is not a smooth one in this return for Nugget & Fang (2013).

Nugget and Fang are best friends, a relationship facilitated by the shark’s vegetarian diet. Though most other sea creatures panic and flee the extremely toothy Fang, the mini minnows are an exception; in their previous outing, Fang saved them from being a menu item. To thank him, they invite Fang to school. The shark is excited, but anxiety hits on the first day, and the giant shark is plagued by questions and what-ifs that his tiny friend just takes in stride. Nugget’s mantra is “You’ll be fine.” But Fang is decidedly not fine: He struggles in every subject and suffers through many mishaps. The final straw lands at the end of the day, when all the fish are expected to share something with the class. After flailing and flopping his way through the school day, Fang doesn’t want to present. When it’s finally his turn, his anxiety has his fins and his tongue tied in knots. But then he spies Nugget, his best friend, and he has no doubt about what is most important for everyone to know. The Photoshop illustrations are bright and colorful. Slack deftly portrays Fang’s every emotion, his toothy frowns and worried eyebrows complementing his slumped body and dorsal fin. Readers will no doubt feel empathetic.

Yes, Fang, you’ll be fine with your fishy friend by your side. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-54826-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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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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