Mr. McGreely builds a veritable gulag around his garden to keep the rabbits out—before he learns he can’t, so he might as well join them. Come spring and Mr. McGreely decides to make real a long-standing dream: a garden full of lettuce and carrots and peas, the foods he so loves. And, of course, a favorite dietary component of the three rabbits who avidly watch Mr. McGreely plant his patch. When the first sprouts push their heads above the soil, the rabbits shuffle down and sample a few. “Tipppy, Tippy– Tippy– Pat! Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!” Mr. McGreely is furious. So he builds a little wire fence, but it is no more a deterrent to the rabbits than a stiff breeze. He throws up a higher wooden fence that is thwarted by digging, and the moat he subsequently builds is simply swum through. Finally he erects what resembles a super-maximum-security prison—concertina wire, spotlights, 20-foot cement walls: “ ‘I’ve outsmarted those twitch-whiskers for sure,’ he exclaimed.” Indeed, the next morning the garden is as he left it—but what’s that peeking out of the basket he has brought in to hold his harvest. Mr. McGreely grabs a carrot and takes a seat among them. Fleming makes it feel as though everyone has won in this contest, and her use of language and onomatopoetic effect is a singular delight. Equally charming are Karas’s gouache, acrylic, and pencil illustrations, which are droll and wistful, the artist at his witty best. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-83152-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2001

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A forgettable tale.


Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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