The circus train stops here after a good run.


From the Farmer Books series

Frazee’s third installment in her wordless picture-book series is a family affair.

Frazee uses the frontmatter to begin her tale as, on the title page, the clown child who met the farmer in the trilogy’s first installment is shown rejecting a motherly clown’s offering of a clown suit. Instead, the child chooses the farmerlike outfit donned in Book 1 and is wearing it when the monkey protagonist of Book 2 reappears with items from the farmer’s abode. It’s a happy reunion of monkey and child, whose play evokes their times on the farm. Their joy is eclipsed only by the eventual appearance of the doting farmer, who comes to the circus after the little clown’s community of performers raises the big top on the prairie. The real drama takes place outside the tent, however, when romance blooms between the farmer and the clown’s mother as they bond over juggling, music, dancing, and pie. At the book’s end, the foursome leaves the circus and heads home to the farmer’s house, which Frazee depicts bathed in a rosy sunset, the landscape embellished with flowers. It’s a happily-ever-after sort of ending, though some readers may be weary of depictions of monkeys as quasi-children, and others may wonder why the farmer didn’t join the circus instead of relocating everyone to his home. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.3-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 19.3% of actual size.)

The circus train stops here after a good run. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4621-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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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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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.


A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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