Storytime audiences will quack up.


Unsure of his destination, can Bernie keep his “On-Time Delivery Money Quack Guarantee”?

Delivery-dog Bernie’s truck is full of goofy, distracted ducks: one’s reading the newspaper, two are drinking a “Bladder Buster” soda—and another ate the directions to his customer’s house. So the put-upon pooch must stop everyone he sees to ask, “Did you call for a truck full of ducks?” A little girl didn’t; she called for a mail truck to send her little brother far away. The jackhammering construction worker didn’t; he called for a “D-D-D-DUMP truck.” The pirate (a mass of disability stereotypes: eyepatch, hook, peg leg, and rotten teeth) didn’t call for ducks…he called for a truck of crackers (for his parrot, of course), “not quackers.” It wasn’t the shark (ice cream truck) or the broken-down extraterrestrial (tow truck). By now, the ducks need a bathroom break—and, finally, from the deep, dark woods someone answers Bernie’s refrain. It was H. Fox, who makes the ducks more than a bit nervous. The surprise reason? Just as foolish as the entire journey. Burach’s tale, told completely in dialogue between Bernie and his possible customers, is only a part of the fun. Silly details decorate every spread of the bright, digitally created, cartoon illustrations, including newspaper headlines (“Stuff Happened”), posters, and the googly-eyed, rambunctious yellow ducks. There is some diversity of skin tone among the humans, but the preponderance are light-skinned.

Storytime audiences will quack up. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-12936-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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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 charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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