Happy-go-lucky fun with words, collage, and a smattering of facts about bugs.



Each of over 25 different “bugs” receives its own short, titled, whimsical poem, an accompanying collage, and a few sentences of factual information.

Almost every insect or arachnid commonly known to most Americans is included in this lighthearted treasury. Each poem highlights some aspect of its subject, whether its appearance, its behavior, or, as in the cockroach, its reputation: “I am not loved, not loved at all. / I’m not like any other. / But surely someone cares for me. / I think it is my MOTHER.” Although facts about the cockroach accompanying the poem and in the endnotes give some reasons to like the creature, it is odd that, after mentioning its association with “poor housekeeping,” there is no mention of the bug’s actually obsessive cleanliness. In general, the poems are clever and humorous, and most of the rhythmic ones scan well. Some use elementary wordplay in the titles, as in “Par-tick-u-lar-ly Awesome” and “Mite-y Nice Advice.” The fly poem is no match for the one by Ogden Nash, but “Grasshopper Green” rivals limericks by Edward Lear. Sweet’s dependably eye-catching illustrations—infused with humor here—are an appropriate match. Care was given to balancing gender among those poems that use pronouns, and there is, incidentally, a note devoted to the fact that female ladybugs are nearly indistinguishable from male ladybugs.

Happy-go-lucky fun with words, collage, and a smattering of facts about bugs. (Picture book/poetry. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9818-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.


Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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