Norman’s rocking rump and hula dance are quite the highlights—it’s a language everyone can understand.

NORMAN, SPEAK!

In this picture-book debut, novelist Adderson (Jasper John Dooley: Not in Love, 2014, etc.) provides an affectionate look into the surprises of bringing home a new pet.

It’s a familiar scene for many families: A young boy and his parents adopt a dog from the animal shelter. Overwhelmed by the choices, the boy wishes he could take home every forlorn-looking pup. He decides that he’ll choose a stray, Norman, that has been there the longest. The pup has a stump of a tail, and his wag is “a hula dance of happiness.” At home, the boy encourages Norman to do the usual canine things, like sit or speak. Norman, however, doesn’t understand, and the boy figures that Norman just isn’t very smart. But intelligence is deceiving. Through an encounter with another pet owner, the boy discovers that Norman understands Chinese (Mandarin), not English. (“Norman! Why didn’t you say so?” scolds the boy.) Pet lovers will appreciate this family’s lighthearted journey toward making this relationship succeed. As an added bonus, readers can learn or brush up on their Mandarin, giving an original twist to the story. Leng’s illustrations in ink on paper add heart with warm pastel hues. The simple and clean facial expressions convey emotions with the right touch, from puzzlement to complete joy.

Norman’s rocking rump and hula dance are quite the highlights—it’s a language everyone can understand. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55498-322-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 32

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE WONKY DONKEY

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

Did you like this book?

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

more