A wintry friendship story that cleverly conceals a how-to for conquering one’s fears and getting back up after snowy falls


What do you do when your giraffe wants to ski?

As snow falls outside, the young protagonist sits uneasily inside a cozy chalet with a giraffe that has just decided to learn to ski. Though the child tries to convince the giraffe that making hot chocolate or snow giraffes would be preferable, the giraffe remains focused and heads straight for the slopes, our protagonist in hot pursuit with equipment in tow. Told in second person, this tongue-in-cheek, teach-your-giraffe-to-ski instruction manual offers a solid introduction to the basics of the sport, for humans too—ski positions, slope etiquette, etc. When at last the giraffe bombs down the largest mountain, what else must a good friend do but go after her? The giraffe’s fearlessness may resonate with some young enthusiasts eager to hit the slopes, while the child’s trepidation about conquering the “Big Scary Slope” will be familiar to many first-time skiers. In true picture-book fashion, the delightful, bright, cartoon-style illustrations expand upon exuberant text that takes turns instructing and cautioning this bold, headstrong mammal and her slightly more cautious owner through attempts, falls, and reassuring hugs. It’s never easy to learn something new; sometimes it helps to have a giraffe learn with you. The child has tan skin and straight, black hair.

A wintry friendship story that cleverly conceals a how-to for conquering one’s fears and getting back up after snowy falls . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8075-7767-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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. 28, 2018

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A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity.


From the Fly Guy series

Buzz and his buzzy buddy open a spinoff series of nonfiction early readers with an aquarium visit.

Buzz: “Like other fish, sharks breathe through gills.” Fly Guy: “GILLZZ.” Thus do the two pop-eyed cartoon tour guides squire readers past a plethora of cramped but carefully labeled color photos depicting dozens of kinds of sharks in watery settings, along with close-ups of skin, teeth and other anatomical features. In the bite-sized blocks of narrative text, challenging vocabulary words like “carnivores” and “luminescence” come with pronunciation guides and lucid in-context definitions. Despite all the flashes of dentifrice and references to prey and smelling blood in the water, there is no actual gore or chowing down on display. Sharks are “so cool!” proclaims Buzz at last, striding out of the gift shop. “I can’t wait for our next field trip!” (That will be Fly Guy Presents: Space, scheduled for September 2013.)

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity. (Informational easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-50771-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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