Terrific for young horse lovers. (Picture book. 5-9)


On Sable Island, off the Nova Scotia coast, a young stallion finds a home and his own band of wild horses, surviving in spite of winter storms and even hurricanes.

Unlike the horses on Assateague and other U.S. barrier islands, the Sable Island herd of 300 has been left completely wild, protected by the Canadian government since 1960. Markle here introduces them to young readers with an imagined story. Purposely dropped off from a schooner, perhaps in the mid-1700s, the young horse, possibly bred for racing, spends his first year with a group of “bachelors,” learning to eat the sand- and ice-crusted marsh grass and to find water in frozen holes. Come spring, he finds a band of mares and takes over as leader, fending off a challenger and surviving a monster storm by taking his band to shelter between the dunes. This simple narrative has been illustrated with glowing oil paintings on double-page spreads. Every scene will delight. The animals are shown in a variety of postures and activities: rearing to challenge gray seals or each other, knee deep in a marsh full of flowers, in fog and snow, galloping free, running from a storm and facing the sunset. Children perplexed by the unexplained abandonment of the horse will find some clarification in the author’s note; lists of books and websites complete the package.

Terrific for young horse lovers. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: July 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8027-9766-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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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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