Florian shines again here.



Florian (Poetrees, 2010, etc.) bestows yet another pleasing mix of punny poems and colorful collages that blend whimsy and fact.

The 14 poems introduce the roles of the queen, drones and workers and touch on such matters as anatomy, development from egg to bee, and even Colony Collapse Disorder. Spreads like “Swarm” epitomize Florian’s skill at combining pithy rhymes, well-chosen facts and playfully tongue-in-cheek pictures. “When it’s too crowded, then we form / A cloud of bees that’s called a swarm.” A three-sentence paragraph, offset in smaller type, explains why bees swarm, the role of scout bees and what happens after a new home site is found. The facing picture shows a veritable thunderhead of bees, dwarfing the sun and forest in its imperative to move house. Design is crisp: The text type, Neutra, sits in pleasing, contrasting colors against saturated pages of crimson, ochre-gold and grass green. Characteristically poking visual fun at facts, the mixed-media pictures present bees as cheeky girls and boys with red, kewpie-doll smiles. The queen sports a crown, scepter and cell phone, illustrating the couplet “My princely sons are known as drones— / Not one of those boys ever phones!” Meanwhile, those Belushi-looking bad boys slouch and smirk in chunky medallions and sideways baseball caps.

Florian shines again here. ("BEEbliography," websites for further inquiry) (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2652-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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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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