Either sweet or treacly depending on any given reader’s mindset and love for the classic.



The Velveteen Rabbit shares all the ways he’ll be there for his beloved friends.

“When it’s dark and when it’s sunny, / I will always be your bunny. // If the world feels like a muddle, / come on over for a cuddle.” Against simple backgrounds that keep eyes focused on the action and the relationship, Swaney places charming, seemingly watercolor illustrations of diverse children interacting with the Velveteen Rabbit, a long, brown-and-white bunny who is, of course, “alive.” From snuggling in bed and refereeing a sibling disagreement to either moping indoors through the rain or enjoying the puddles, the situations will be familiar to young readers. Though the rabbit lacks a mouth, both the line of his chin and the area where the white of his belly meets brown suggest one, and his emotions are clear through body language. The tiny trim size makes this ideal for sharing one-on-one, and the gift plate on the front endpaper suggests personal rather than public-library use. But the audience remains a question; some vocabulary suits this to older children (“morale,” “BFF,” “ref”), who would also truly understand and appreciate the original Velveteen Rabbit book, but the rhyming and simple pictures are aimed at a younger age group.

Either sweet or treacly depending on any given reader’s mindset and love for the classic. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9341-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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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 good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.


Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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