This introduction to a well-loved butterfly species meets with mixed success.




A monarch butterfly befriends a newly hatched monarch larva and offers it a glimpse into a future with wings.

The narrative is voiced by the caterpillar: “Coming out of my egg, I see… / green.” When a monarch butterfly comes to “sip nectar from a nearby flower” the caterpillar refers to it as Orange. The butterfly tells the caterpillar, “Once, I was just like you on this milkweed plant.” The caterpillar longs to see more than the leaves nearby: “I can’t wait to fly with Orange.” The butterfly tells the caterpillar about what she sees from above: flowers blooming, forest, ocean, a schoolyard. She says that one day the caterpillar will be able to see these things for itself, but the butterfly won’t be there: “I must go. We all must, someday.” Halliday’s bold, frequently full-bleed digital collages have an impressive sense of depth and realistically depict the colors of the insects and flora, but they anthropomorphize by giving large, round, glossy, expressive eyes to both butterfly and larva. The gentle conversations between caterpillar and butterfly reach for a metaphor along with the factual depiction of the monarch’s life cycle, but the result is that both story and science are somewhat weakened. Backmatter briefly describes the life cycle and mentions the annual migration of each season’s last generation.

This introduction to a well-loved butterfly species meets with mixed success. (bibliography) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62414-931-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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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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