From the Bad Kitty series

Bad Kitty is back—with a letter to Santa.

Even though she “is not so sure she’s been good this year,” Kitty writes to Santa to ask for “a nice present.” Next she must “GIVE the letter to Santa,” and a picture shows her gripping a newspaper with the headline “MEET SANTA TODAY!” and a photo of Kris Kringle. While en route to the store to see him (her letter cleverly stuck into the folded brim of her knitted hat), Kitty encounters someone she thinks is Santa but who turns out to be someone dressed in a Santa suit and ringing a bell for charity. Other similar encounters show a diverse range of people (men, women, and a child with different skin tones and hair textures) wearing Santa suits and holding signs reading “GIVE.” There’s even a dog and an octopus getting in on the action in the digital, cartoon-style pictures. Kitty is overwhelmed by all the Santas, none of whom looks like the white-bearded white man in the newspaper. And alas, when she reaches the store, it’s closed! Angry, she balls up her letter and stomps on it before heading home. But, in a gift of an ending, Bad Kitty ends up with a very nice present under her tree: a fish in a brown-paper package all tied up with string.

Nice enough. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-19843-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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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

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