A moo-ve-lous, moo-ving tribute to love for a child.


Cowabunga! Love is surely the cow’s moo-ow!

In this brief, adorable lovefest, a black-and-white adult bovine caregiver expresses heartfelt adoration for its little one using delightful, comical plays on the word moo. Some of the puns are obvious, though they’ll be no less chuckle-inducing to young readers/listeners. Take, for instance, the words moo-d, moo-vies, moo-sic, and moo-se. (A delicious, winking nod to a very famous children’s-book title also appears near the end.) Some puns are trickier, with moo’s occurring midword—hu-moo-r; marsh-moo-llows—and/or appearing in less familiar words, such as moo-zzarella, com-moo-nicator, and sch-moo-zing. In every case, moo is depicted with the o’s filled in so it stands out in sharp relief whenever it appears. This helps youngsters identify targeted words both visually and aurally. Aside from its value as a very simply told, sweet, humorous, reassuring charmer, this book develops vocabulary creatively. After children have listened to the story, they should have an udderly grand time volunteering their own word lists that might include plays on moo and other cow-related words. Even the calf in the story gets into the act with its own moo pun at the end. Simple illustrations feature bold outlines; a basic tan, black, and white palette with touches of red; and occasional changes in lettering and font for emphasis. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.5-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 82.8% of actual size.)

A moo-ve-lous, moo-ving tribute to love for a child. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4706-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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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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