Only confirmed ailurophobes will fail to enjoy sharing these kitties’ day.


A marmalade kitten and friends search a crowded cat world for a mouse named Sleepy.

When Mom cat asks what happened to Sleepy, this kitten knows she means the crowned mouse known as “Prince of the Night” and “Master of Dreams.” The kitten continues, “But where is he now? Where could Sleepy be? / Not here around us. He’s run away, free!” With a spread-spanning cry of “LET’S GET SLEEPY!!!” a bevy of kittens bursts out of the house to look, at first just around the neighborhood. Nope. There’s a parade going on in town, but the kittens don’t find Sleepy. The next “LET’S GET SLEEPY!!!!” hies the friends to “Sunny Sands Beach! Is this where he’ll be? / We’ll search and we’ll seek and ask friends that we meet.” The kittens’ search takes them to the mountains, a swamp, a cave, and even the moon…but they never find Sleepy. Readers will understand why, as each location presents a bustling scene in which Sleepy figures as a tiny Where’s Waldo–esque target amid teeming masses of bright-eyed, round-headed anthropomorphic kitties (and the occasional dog, elephant, or pterodactyl). Each landscape is rendered in a muted palette dominated by ochre and gold, upping the difficulty. All the figures in each scene appear to have their own backstories, allowing young readers searching for Sleepy to make up any number of additional tales.

Only confirmed ailurophobes will fail to enjoy sharing these kitties’ day. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30784-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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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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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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