This ideal post–aquarium-visit souvenir has similar child appeal. (Picture book. 3-7)


From the Wow! series

The excitement of the ocean world from the beach to the deep and all between is conveyed by the jam-packed illustrations in this celebration.

The text is limited to a sentence before the title page setting up the premise—Izzy’s family goes to the beach—and captions for the double-page spreads—“Wow! Shells!” “Wow! Tide Pool!” “Wow! Turtles!” and so forth. Each busy, oversized spread contains a colorful framed illustration with numerous figures drawn with a heavy, black line. Each creature has an almost inconspicuous label. Even the frames are filled with color splotches. Two children, variously equipped with surf boards, masks, diving gear and submersible vehicles, explore these waters. Sharp-eyed readers will also follow their dog chasing the crab through each setting (even in the fishy endpapers). The author has chosen his creatures carefully, including many his readers will already have heard of (octopus, manta rays, blue whales, great white sharks) and more that will be new. These are not pictured to scale but are reasonably recognizable by shape and coloration. There’s humor and fantasy (in the deep, the dog sprouts fins and a tail) but also plenty of solid identification information for readers who like to know the names of things. Izzy’s enthusiasm will be familiar to readers of Wow! City! (2004), Wow! America! (2006) and Wow! School! (2007).

This ideal post–aquarium-visit souvenir has similar child appeal. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 17, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4231-3113-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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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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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.


A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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