An invitation to cultivate our wild selves and our inextricable bond with the natural world.


Author/illustrator Brouwers draws parallels between Mother Nature and human nature in this celebration of the interconnectedness of all living things.

Page after page of atmospheric watercolor artwork shows wildings at home in their natural habitats. Playful monkeys swing gracefully in forest trees; a buffalo lounges majestically in a muddy wallow; a flock of Egyptian geese soar above a river; and more. Simple, spare text narrated in the first-person plural “we” encourages us to recognize ourselves in nature and embrace the feral instincts hard-wired into us all: “We are wild beings. / Born curious and strong”; and “We love to run free / and leap into flight”; and so forth. To further the point, Brouwers integrates human imagery into her paintings of wild landscapes, sometimes in the form of hidden images—discerning viewers will detect human footprints, hands, and shadows as well as silhouettes (which occasionally recall prehistoric cave wall paintings) of children that leap, climb, and run alongside their animal counterparts, making for a fun seek-and-find. The illustrations are reminiscent of figurative collage, with monoprinted details, nature-inspired textures, layered translucent glazes, and animal portraits that sometimes have a photographic quality. The book’s visuals will engage animal lovers, while the short text (culminating in a “ROAR!”) makes for an agreeable read-aloud for the younger set.

An invitation to cultivate our wild selves and our inextricable bond with the natural world. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-49551-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 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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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.


A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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