An indulgence for Mother Goose die-hards.


Wolfie is an orange cat who dreams of cake—never mind the chocolate frosting!

Unfortunately the cake in question is destined for Little Red’s grandma, should the book follow the “Little Red Riding Hood” plot (and it does). After Little Red, a White child with short ginger hair who wears a red, hooded jacket, bakes and frosts a cake with the help of Big Red, a bearded adult with matching hair and skin, a game of cat and mouse ensues in comic-book–style spreads and panels. Cautious of being caught in pursuit, Wolfie dodges several looks back from Little Red, hiding alongside various images of cats passed along the way. Without narrative text, the book relies on Mother Goose and Brothers Grimm references to hold the visual interest, as a child being followed by a cat doesn’t really demand the nearly 64 pages it takes up. For those well versed in nursery rhymes, storefronts like Humpty Dumpty Insurance, Gingerbread Gym, and Mary Q. Contrary Florist may earn a chuckle, but the only real fun is in finding all of Bo Peep’s “lost” sheep—often not far from one of her flyers. In a low-stakes climax, Wolfie is outwitted by Grandma and Little Red, who kindly share their cake after a lighthearted prank. Just in case the story—or lack thereof—didn’t drag on long enough, readers can follow the pair all the way home again (jiggety jig) and into bed. A key to fairy tales and rhymes referenced—and the rhymes themselves—appears at the back. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An indulgence for Mother Goose die-hards. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-31510-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Clarion/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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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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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...


A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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