An energetic Christmas countdown for kids who wonder whether they’ve been naughty or nice. (Picture book. 3-7)


Scalawag the cat may be a little too naughty to make Santa’s “nice” list.

In a series of letters to Santa, Scalawag pleads his case that the mischief he’s been getting into isn’t all that bad. Hilarious illustrations tell otherwise. Scalawag writes “I tried every new food in front of me. I always finished my dinner,” while Beckman’s scratchy cartoons depict him getting into doughnuts, chips, and cake. His owner, Miss Violet (who keeps alive the stereotype of the middle-aged, single cat lady), always gets him catnip mice for Christmas, and he’s seen far too many of those, as he points out to Santa; this year he’d like a new “Catman and Robin” video game. His misadventures escalate. Scalawag misuses the neighbor’s sandbox and gets his head stuck in a pitcher of milk (after drinking its contents), precipitating a chain of events that doesn’t end until a toppled tree catches on fire, bringing the paramedics. Miss Violet forgives all, fortunately. Scalawag’s narrative voice is slightly snarky, and Beckman’s lightly drawn, cheerful illustrations capture the expressions of all the characters perfectly. There’s plenty of humor here, from the cat sprawled on a couch on the cover, balefully eyeing a Christmas tree with its shiny, red foil ornaments, to the endpapers covered with dozens of stuffed mice. Miss Violet is white, as is her best friend; Dr. Tim the vet is black.

An energetic Christmas countdown for kids who wonder whether they’ve been naughty or nice. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4413-2421-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Peter Pauper Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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A perfect story to enjoy on a “no bones day.”


Graziano tells the story of his TikTok-famous pug, Noodle.

Noodle is a silly, stubborn old pug who likes walks and snacks. “He’s a pug who knows what he wants.” Jonathan, his light-skinned owner, loves taking Noodle for walks and sharing snacks—they are a perfect pair. But one day, when it’s time for a walk, Noodle just lies in his dog bed. Even when Jonathan tries to make Noodle sit up, Noodle flops back down. “It’s like he doesn’t have bones!” says Jonathan. Noodle doesn’t seem sick—he just wants snacks and to stay in bed. Finally, Jonathan asks if Noodle would just like to snuggle instead and receives a strong affirmative from the drowsy pug. Together Noodle and his human enjoy a relaxing “no bones day” and learn an important lesson about rest and why it matters for silly, stubborn old pugs and for the humans who love them, too. Many may already be familiar with Noodle through his TikTok videos (if Noodle remains standing when Graziano lifts him, it’s a “bones day”; among Noodle’s followers, a “no bones day” has come to mean a day for self-care and taking it easy). However, this story stands alone and will likely create new fans for a long time to come. Hand-drawn and painted digitally, Tavis’ illustrations rely on a muted palette and rounded images, depicting an appropriately cozy world. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A perfect story to enjoy on a “no bones day.” (author's note) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 7, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66592-710-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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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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