Visual beauty plus the beauty of closeness in sad times. Cuddle close for this one.


This Italian import asks readers to consider: What if one friend needs to hibernate and the other doesn’t?

The forest is turning “rich amber, burned orange, and chestnut brown.” Little Red, a burnt-orange fox with a sharp snout, revels in the camouflage, excited to go unseen by Hazel the dormouse. Before readers can grasp the wisp of a predator-prey implication, the page turn curves lightly in the opposite direction: Hazel and Little Red are best friends, blissfully frolicking together in the autumn leaves. The hiding is for hide-and-seek. This joy is fleeting, though, because “the smell of winter mean[s] one thing: loneliness.” The fox is the vulnerable one; Hazel’s about to hibernate. Hazel’s burrow—a two-storied teapot featuring a duvet-covered bed, an oven, and tea towel—will hold Hazel all winter long, leaving Little Red alone and forlorn. Proietti’s gently textured fox fur, grasses, plants, and skies are softly melancholy. Close-ups (Hazel dozing off while holding Little Red’s ear) alternate with landscapes: half-bare trees whose trunks are starkly discrete, symbolizing winter’s isolation; the sun hanging low in a pale, yellow-gray sky as the two friends sit motionless. Eventually, Hazel and Little Red fall asleep together outside the teapot. Whether this solves the problem or merely postpones it, their affection is a solid comfort.

Visual beauty plus the beauty of closeness in sad times. Cuddle close for this one. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63655-004-6

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Red Comet Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)


A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 32

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller


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

Did you like this book?