Slight, but inviting of energetic engagement and laughter.


A blue-green blob demonstrates that some rules are meant to be broken.

The blob looks like a round splatter of paint, with stick limbs and big eyes. “Oh, hi. I see you’ve opened this book,” it says in greeting. It warns that there are rules in the book. “You” must not do “any of the cool or awesome things” the rules say not to do “because then you’ll have WAY too much fun.” Listeners at just the right age may find this rib-ticklingly funny. The first rule is that a fart noise must not be made, with large letters to sound out the noise strewn colorfully across the two-page opening. While possibly a cheap chuckle, given the audience, it allows listeners to feel bold and enjoy some silly, supervised rule-breaking. The white background and creative use of text placement, size, and color keep the visual focus on the simple, instructive narrative. The blob demonstrates additional rules, becoming larger and more animated in its agitation as an unseen listener apparently breaks the following rules: do not make “the weirdest, silliest, most RE-DONK-A-DONK face you can,” or “tap your head and rub your belly at the same time,” or “hug yourself and yell I AM THE BEST,” or “turn to whoever else is in the room and say YOU’RE AWESOME, TOO!” And finally, “please do not ask to read this book again.” Good luck. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 30.3% of actual size.)

Slight, but inviting of energetic engagement and laughter. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11681-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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For patient listeners, a fun visit to a mixed-up barnyard.


When a fierce wind descends on the barnyard, the animals hear some odd noises…and they’re coming from their own mouths.

The sudden wind unsettles all the animals on the farm just when they should be getting ready for sleep. Instead, they anxiously “cheep” and “cluck” and “oink” and “quack” and “moooo.” They shift nervously, pull together, and make all sorts of noises. All except Turtle, who tucks into his shell under an old log and sleeps. In the morning, though, the animals get a surprise. Pig says, “Cluck”; the Little Chicks say, “Neigh”; Horse crows, “Cock-a-doodle-doo.” How will they get their proper sounds back? Turtle has an idea, and he enjoys the process so much that he decides to open his mouth the next time the wind plays tricks at the farm: Perhaps he’ll catch a sound all his own. Chua’s cartoon barnyard is bright, and her animals, expressive, their faces and body language slightly anthropomorphized. The edges of the figures sometimes betray their digital origins. Though the tale is humorous and will give lots of opportunity for practicing animal sounds, the audience is hard to pin down, as the young children sure to enjoy mooing and clucking may not have the patience to sit through the somewhat lengthy text.

For patient listeners, a fun visit to a mixed-up barnyard. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-8735-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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The flat ending is disappointing for a group of characters who could have exhibited a rousing rhythmic finale.


Just before showtime, the animals in the band must search for their instruments in the lost and found by their identifying sounds.

A mouse happily claims the trumpet after a congenial-looking rabbit clerk produces a bicycle horn, trumpet, and toy train in response to a request for an instrument that makes a “Toot! Toot! Toot!” sound. Similarly a beaver retrieves the triangle from an assortment of things that make a “Ding! Ding! Ding!” sound. An elephant and a squirrel find their piano and drum, and the band reassembles, led by their conductor, a bat. The animals’ questions are phrased in rhyming couplets: “The thing I lost goes Plink! Plank! Plunk! I play it with my big, long trunk,” explains the elephant. The simple, black-outlined cartoons against a white or pale yellow background extend the narrative so that readers are expected to discern objects with their corresponding sounds. The rabbit offers the elephant first a piggy bank (“Plink!”), then a flowerpot full of water (“Plank!”), and then a comically tiny piano (“Plunk!”). Unfortunately, as the band comes together, their meager performance reflects the bareness of this storyline. The bat ends the search and exclaims, “You found my things! They sound so grand. / One, two, three— // let’s hit it, band! / Toot! Ding! Plunk! Boom!”

The flat ending is disappointing for a group of characters who could have exhibited a rousing rhythmic finale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-238068-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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