Though his story is a bit wordy (but well-suited to a read-aloud), few will be able to resist Enzo’s charm.


Traffic may not daunt the race car–chasing dog, but Halloween certainly does.

It doesn’t help that Zoë gets Daddy to tell all about Halloween “the scary way.” Denny turns off the lights, puts a flashlight under his chin, and tells of ghosts and spooks running through the neighborhood. The little dog thinks, “It’s going to take all my energy to protect us from this impending invasion.” His tongue-in-cheek first-person (first-dog?) narration provides an unusual perspective on Halloween. For instance, he believes that the jack-o’-lantern Zoë and Denny carved has put an evil spell on his humans (both white), transforming them into a fairy princess and a scarecrow. But the last straw for the dog in the green dragon costume is when his barks cause everyone to run away—from him. To save them, he runs away himself. It is only when Zoë finds him and finally explains that Halloween is dress-up that Enzo loses his haunted and hangdog look, and the night ends on a loving note. Alley’s artwork uses pen and ink, pencil, watercolor, gouache, acrylics, and spilled coffee to create joyful family scenes that revolve around Halloween fun—few pages will be truly frightening for young readers, but they will understand Enzo’s fear, nonetheless, which is clear in his body language and facial expressions.

Though his story is a bit wordy (but well-suited to a read-aloud), few will be able to resist Enzo’s charm. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-238061-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.


All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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