Fans of the TV special will be drawn to this edition of the beloved story; others may want to check out the new...



The version of the holiday story that has been shown on television for the past 50 years is the basis for this interpretation of Rudolph’s tale.

Most of the elements of the story everybody knows already are here. As a young reindeer, Rudolph doesn’t fit in due to his glowing nose, and he befriends Hermey, an elf who doesn’t fit in because he wants to be a dentist rather than an assistant to Santa. They set off together and avoid capture by the Abominable Snow Monster with the help of a woodsman named Yukon and his sled-dog team. The rather lengthy text rushes through the plot of the TV special, and there are a few plot developments that are solved without motivation, such as the Abominable Snow Monster’s sudden transformation from enemy to friend. Bright, hard-edged illustrations reflect the animated origins of this version, bearing a flattened appearance, as though a TV image had been captured for reference. Rudolph, Hermey and Santa are attractive characters, and the Abominable Snow Monster offers just a touch of scary menace to be overcome. There’s a none-too-subtle message about accepting those who are different, whether a reindeer with a red nose, a dentally minded elf or residents of the Island of Misfit Toys. Rudolph uses his special red nose to guide the sleigh team, but that accomplishment is curiously downplayed at the conclusion.

Fans of the TV special will be drawn to this edition of the beloved story; others may want to check out the new interpretation of the original story by Robert L. May, publishing on Sept. 30, 2014. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-04760-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Square Fish

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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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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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.


All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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