A heartwarming epistolary tale of helpfulness.


What’s Arfy to do when he finds a stray kitten in a drainpipe?

Arfy’s human’s allergic to cats, so his new buddy needs a home. The pup picks up his pencil and writes a letter of introduction to the music teacher. “Scamper likes to eat, play, and poop in a box. He also likes to sing!” Scamper carries the letter to Maestro Mitch’s house. Mitch is charmed, but he sends Scamper back with a letter saying the kitten’s high notes are too much. Arfy pens a second letter, hoping to place Scamper with the triplet babies next door. Their snuggling turns out to be too much for Scamper; he runs away. Arfy’s third letter introduces Scamper to Emily Lugnut the mechanic, offering the puss as a mouser…but Scamper’s more interested in playing with the mice than catching them; Emily returns him with a note and an apology. Neither the talent agent nor the man with cat-themed decorations works out either. Scamper thanks Arfy in a note of his own. It’s only when the little furball enumerates his favorite parts of each attempted placement that Arfy realizes the perfect home for his new friend and writes one last letter of introduction. Cummings’ follow-up to Arfy’s winning debut, Can I Be Your Dog? (2018), is equally charming. The colorful and dynamic illustrations oppose each item of correspondence on verso against a scene on recto to tell the tale hand in paw with Arfy’s missives and the answering letters. Humans of diverse races live in Arfy’s town.

A heartwarming epistolary tale of helpfulness. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-3186-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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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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