Pass on this porky paean to friendship; stick with Piggie with a side of Elephant



Into the crowded field of porcine protagonists comes Piggy, a friendless pig who loves to read.

Piggy has been too busy reading all his life to make real friends. When he’s down to his last book, he decides to save it. Then he grabs the first toy he comes upon—a kite—and heads out to fly it. He crashes his kite, but he sees a cat sitting on a swing, nose in a book. He decides to make her his friend. First he tries to get her attention with giant soap bubbles and gets literally carried away in a bubble. Then he tries flying his airplane overhead, trailing a friendly banner; she doesn’t notice. However inventive he gets, the cat continues to read. Then Piggy gets an idea: friends in his books share what they love with each other. He gives the cat, Kate, his last book. She’s overjoyed to get it, but she needs glasses like Piggy’s to read it—happily, he’s got a pair. (At this point readers will wonder how she was reading the book that so fascinated her in the preceding pages.) Entrepreneur and digital artist Lai’s traditional publishing debut has great intentions but not a lot of personality. Piggy trots well-tread ground in the digitally finished watercolor-and-pencil illustrations, which are bright but spare and uninteresting. Rather than a developed character, he resembles an emoji given a bland and illogical tale to inhabit.

Pass on this porky paean to friendship; stick with Piggie with a side of Elephant . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68119-065-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)


A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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

Did you like this book?