Enjoy the art, ignore the story.


Animal best friends squabble and then make up.

Tim, a light green squirrel, and Teo, a red rabbit, are friends who believe that “there is nothing better than eating hazelnuts on a mountaintop.” When the last hazelnut disappears, however, each blames the other, and they’re both prepared to end the friendship over it. Luckily, after a day and night of anger, they simultaneously decide to forgive each other for eating the last hazelnut and bring a new bowl of nuts to the scene of the conflict. When it’s discovered that a thieving bird was responsible the whole time, the two animals agree that sharing is a good thing and that they should “roll down the mountain together.” The illustrations are remarkable, pleasantly garish, and detailed, with the animals sporting particularly flamboyant outfits (such as Teo’s black-and-white skintight pants with delicate black shoes. The story, translated from Spanish, is rendered in the present tense, not a good choice for this kind of read-aloud. And the animals’ language is stilted and uncomfortable from the first exchange: “ ‘Hi, Teo! I was looking for you. I’ve just picked some hazelnuts. Shall we share them?’ ‘What a great idea, Tim! I love hazelnuts!’ ” It goes on to give children monotone scripts for conflict resolution rather than a story: “ ‘You know what, Teo? It feels good to share.’ ‘I totally agree, Tim.’ ”

Enjoy the art, ignore the story. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64686-055-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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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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