Discouraged with her small stature, a little yak tackles a size-related challenge.

Living atop a snowy mountain, Gertie’s the smallest yak in her huddling herd. Despite having the “curliest, whirliest wool” as well as “splendidly grippy” hooves to scale the most “slippy” cliff, Gertie longs for “BIGNESS.” She wants to grow up to have “greatness and tallness” and the “hugest of hooves and humongous horns.” Reminding Gertie that yaks are “all shapes and sizes / and BIGNESS can come in all sorts of disguises,” Gertie’s mother urges her to enjoy being small. Nevertheless, Gertie embarks on a “Growing-Up Plan,” eating well, exercising, and reading to make her thoughts grow, but despite her efforts, “no growing arrive[s].” But then the herd frantically calls on Gertie to rescue a yak trapped on a cliff edge, a dangerous mission only she can attempt, and Gertie discovers she’s had “bigness inside” all along. The jolly, fast-paced, rhyming verse propels readers through diminutive Gertie’s harrowing, wind-swept rescue mission and matches the upbeat mood of her quest for “bigness.” A pleasing palette of silvers, grays, and blues with red and yellow accents accentuates the bleak, snowy mountaintop venue, while whimsical scenes of hairy, wide-eyed, comical yaks of assorted shapes and sizes sporting amusing cold-weather headgear will trigger chuckles and reinforce the message of individuality.

A real little winner. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68263-282-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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?

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

Did you like this book?