Joe isn’t quite as cool as Pete, but a catchy tune, dancing dinosaurs, and strawberry ice cream are an enticing combination....


From the Groovy Joe series

The author of the first few entries in the wildly popular Pete the Cat series debuts a new series starring Groovy Joe, a guitar-playing, ice cream–loving hound dog.

Groovy Joe is rocking out with his pal, a squirrel with sunglasses, as the pair gets ready to share a tub of Haagen Dogs ice cream. Suddenly a little dinosaur roars into the room, putting on a bib and pulling out a spoon in expectation of a scoop of ice cream of his own. Groovy Joe introduces the story’s refrain, “It’s awesome to share!” as he dishes up some strawberry ice cream for his visitor. But then a big dinosaur bursts in, followed by a huge dinosaur (the only specified female character), who polishes off the rest of the ice cream. Groovy Joe, a calm character like his predecessor Pete the Cat, takes matters in stride, turns over the empty ice cream tub, and uses it as a drum. The whole crew dances and sings a song about sharing and loving their doggy ice cream before marching off into the distance to dream up further entries in the series. Bold illustrations in watercolor and colored pencil are by Lichtenheld, illustrator of Sherri Duskey Rinker’s Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site (2011). He clearly knows how to create captivating characters with engaging expressions and amusing antics. As with the Pete the Cat books, a musical version of the text can be downloaded from the publisher’s website.

Joe isn’t quite as cool as Pete, but a catchy tune, dancing dinosaurs, and strawberry ice cream are an enticing combination. Here’s hoping Groovy Joe soon meets a female counterpart—perhaps Hep Hilda or Beatnik Betty? (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-88378-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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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

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