Even the most bee-phobic readers will have a hard time resisting this swarm of humor and fact.


Following much the same format as in I’m Trying to Love Spiders (2015), Barton makes a strong case for the value of bees.

Edgar, a torpedo-shaped white kid with googly eyes and a scribble of hair, loves everything the narrator does, including dinosaurs, strawberries, and honey, but he’s not so sure about bees. The narrator proceeds to persuade him to “give bees a chance,” telling him there are “about 25,000 different kinds of bees to love” (a sampling of which are introduced on front and rear endpapers), describing the composition of a honeybee colony and honeybee anatomy, and regaling him with cool bee facts. Edgar’s still not sure, because, he says, “they’re all gonna sting me!” Since many readers likely share Edgar’s apprehension, Barton’s counter to this is delightfully kidcentric: “most bees lose their stinger after attacking,” she says, “which would be like your hand disappearing if you pinched your sister!” Edgar remains unconvinced, so Barton drills down on the importance of bee pollination to the world’s food supply, illustrating it with a strawberry plant that says, “throw me some pollen! I don’t have arms.” Barton’s digital mix of scribbly cartoons and comics-style panels, splashy, watercolor-effect backgrounds, and exuberant hand-lettering makes for a high-energy celebration of all things Apis.

Even the most bee-phobic readers will have a hard time resisting this swarm of humor and fact. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-670-01694-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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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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Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...


It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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