Ignorance equals bliss in this amusing, cleverly executed tale.



A clueless fish owes her escape from a fisherman and a great blue heron to sheer dumb luck in this “fishy tale.”

A little round fish in a kerchief, Miss Doreen Randolph-Potts wends her way upstream to visit her cousin when she spies a dragonfly “darting, / dancing deliciously above her.” Thinking she’s found a “lovely snack,” Doreen unknowingly swallows the fisherman’s lure as he rapidly reels her in and tosses her into his bucket. Gleefully assuming she’s on an “outing,” Doreen’s equally oblivious when the heron snaps her up and flies off. Thanking the heron for escorting her on her journey, Doreen asks if he’s an egret, prompting him to open his beak to correct her. Suddenly “plunging and plummeting” through the air, unflappable Doreen’s thrilled to be “FLYING” and eventually falls back into the stream and swims on, unaware of her close calls. Laced with panicky warnings from the narrator alerting Doreen to her impending mortal danger, the alliterative text tracks her perilous journey in humorous detail while its typographic placement visually follows her up, down and across double-page spreads. Rendered in pencil, watercolor, gouache and colored pencil, the fluid illustrations effectively rely on light and arresting perspectives to highlight Doreen’s precarious situations.

Ignorance equals bliss in this amusing, cleverly executed tale. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-375-86918-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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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 good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.


Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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