A cornucopia of visual textures dresses up a rather obscure story.


How alarming is an incorrect drawing assignment?

It’s “just a normal day” in this forest where cheerful insects live in flowers as tall as trees. The schoolroom, inside a tree, has a blackboard and geometry tools. But when students hand in their assigned homework, a drawing of an elephant, the teacher’s so stunned by Ladybug’s picture that her googly eyes roll around in her head—one eyeball up, one down. “What on earth is that?” Miss Dragonfly exclaims. Ladybug replies: “It’s “a giant ball of fluff.” (It looks more like a nonfluffy black scribble, like a knotted ball of twine.) The nonelephant drawing earns Ladybug various outsized reactions: a medical visit to check her hearing; stunned parents who react by spying on her; strange looks from the entire community. The disproportionate reactions don’t seem to be the joke; the message seems merely that a direct question can clear away confusion. Luckily, Aguirre’s zesty illustrations perk everything up. Hilarious yet harmonious visual juxtapositions abound. Insects live atop leaves and under toadstools, yet they have landlines, sinks for brushing teeth, and, amusingly, potted plants. Tiny, crisp, red autumn leaves thrive next to lush, verdant greens; hazy background tree landscapes glow dimly and gorgeously; a beetle’s bodily stripes are sharp while tree bark and snail shells are soft. Firefly wings are delicate lace. Insects’ faces are blue, green, or beige.

A cornucopia of visual textures dresses up a rather obscure story. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-84-16733-88-0

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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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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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...


A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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