A sweet and child-sensitive addition to any picture-book collection.


Hector and his classmates learn about collecting.

Hector admires the acorns he collects over the course of the fall, so much so that he stores his treasures in his desk. He’s momentarily embarrassed when his teacher discovers them and his classmates laugh, but his clever teacher turns this into an opportunity, letting him show and tell, asking classmates about their own collections, and making connections to libraries and museums. Graegin’s sketched and shaded drawings, digitally manipulated, colored, and combined, work well in support of this friendly fable. Mammals of all sorts populate Hector’s world. The protagonist looks something like a grizzly bear cub; his teacher is a giraffe, and his classmates are of many different species. All wear clothes but no shoes; careful readers may identify them by their feet. Hector’s collection, pictured on the front endpapers as well as in the text, is nicely varied. As he admires each one, textual similes are supported by the art: he carries a green apple along with the pair that are apple green; he finds another, “golden and smooth like polished stone,” in a pot with stones. There are vignettes, full-page images, and spreads in pleasing variety. The final endpapers include other collectibles. The author’s note ends with her point: “Every collection is different. Every collection is the same. Just like all of us.”

A sweet and child-sensitive addition to any picture-book collection. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-296-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 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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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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