Best friends don’t have to do everything together, but they are there for one another, and Tiny and Penelope exemplify that.


Exuberant Penelope and shy and retiring Tiny, the most oddball of friends, are back, this time trying to decide what they can do together in the school talent show.

Fittingly, the book opens with Penelope letting out a loud “YIPPEE” in her excitement over the news and Tiny shushing her: “You’re making a scene.” Though Tiny has learned his lesson to let Penelope be her own hippo, the uptight mouse is still not comfortable being a part of what he sees as her extravagant ideas for a best-friends talent-show act: dance (ballet? Hula? Hip-hop?), a skit (“Rapunzel”? “Jack and the Beanstalk”? “Little Red Riding Hood”?), a circus act (trapeze? Clowns? Lion tamer?). But his idea—the chorus—just isn’t spectacular enough for Penelope. In the end, Tiny suggests that the two be in the show, just in different acts, and they can clap for each other. And when Penelope’s “ballet-Rapunzel-trapeze act” goes awry, her best friend is there to rescue her as if it were part of the act all along. Cornelison’s illustrations play up the size difference between the two friends as well as Tiny’s reticence versus Penelope’s over-the-top verve. Tiny’s thought bubbles are hysterical as he imagines lifting the hippo in a pas de deux or having her try to be the center of attention in the chorus.

Best friends don’t have to do everything together, but they are there for one another, and Tiny and Penelope exemplify that. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4847-1491-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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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