A keen introduction to a way of being in the world.


The fundamentals of dog sledding emerge in this story of two youngsters, one a boy and the other a dog, eager to join the team and run.

Jake is a young Inuk living in Nunavut, in the Canadian north, with his dog, Kamik; such can be surmised by his calling his grandparents ataatasiaq and anaanatsiaq and the fact that there is an awful lot of snow on the ground, just right for mushing, a strong Inuit tradition. One morning Jake brings Kamik—the word for “sealskin boot” in Inuit; Baker’s story is captivating enough to make non-Inuit readers want to look these things up—to his master-musher uncle’s house to show him off. Jake’s uncle is a serious musher and is pleased with Kamik. “Smart, hard-working dogs are the best dogs. Being a good musher takes a lot of work.” He tells Jake about the things he will need to know: how to rebraid ropes and harnesses, build sleds and a doghouse, and, not least, “Dogs rely on us to keep them healthy.” Jake is a bit overwhelmed when he realizes his ignorance. But his uncle claps him on the back. “You can learn alongside your dogs.” It is one of those life lessons that need but a few words: we all must learn, we will all make mistakes, perseverance is key—neatly delivered, making learning fun rather than drudgery. Leng’s artwork sets the story in its element, with its spare landscape and close community.

A keen introduction to a way of being in the world. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77227-125-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.


Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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