A high-interest venture for the early-reader audience.


From the Moby Shinobi and Toby, Too! series , Vol. 1

Sand, sun, and surf provide a jovial backdrop to ninja Moby Shinobi’s latest adventures, presented here in this graphic format after five more-conventional early-reader outings.

Moby’s sidekick dog “Toby wants to play in the sun. / A beach visit would be fun!” Ninja Moby indulges Toby’s request, packing both beach and ninja items before setting out for the “Beach Bash!” Simple rhyming couplets and plenty of action follow as each brief chapter showcases a new problem for Moby. In “Sun and Sand,” his friends ask for assistance to place the final flag atop their impressive competitive sand castle only to be sabotaged by a snappy crab. In “Catch of the Day,” a fisherman on a pier recruits Moby to pull in a catch only to be entangled in lines and confusion. Moby later goes “To the Rescue” of a mariner whose sailboat is sinking. Following suit from previous books, Moby often creates a comical catastrophe before ushering in a creative solution. Bold illustrations layered with bright colors and textures are combined with oversized cartoon facial features. The combo heightens the lively plot, especially during the monosyllabic action sequences in each vignette: “TWIRL! / TOSS! / BOINK! / PLOP!” Light-skinned Moby may be equipped with and dressed in ninjutsu attire, but diversity is shown with a single brown-skinned friend and other background characters.

A high-interest venture for the early-reader audience. (Graphic early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-54752-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 32

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller


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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet