Overstuffed and not entirely successful, this follow-up is nonetheless fun and entertaining.


From the Happy County series , Vol. 2

This return visit to Happy County following series opener Hello, World! (2020) includes informational sections along with brief narratives, search-and-find challenges, lots of labels, and many visual jokes.

Once again there are 18 chapters, mostly two pages each. The action takes place over two days and two nights with the Sun and the Moon depicted in both factual and fanciful fashion. Small stories feature a grandmother’s visit, a filmmaker’s frustration, a hot air balloon mishap (solved with ingenuity by the Bright Brothers), an entrepreneurial snake gardener, and a backyard campout. Sections between the stories provide basic facts, with varying success, about the water cycle, photosynthesis, the phases (or “faces”) of the moon, tides, planets, and solar power. In addition to feeling slightly arbitrary despite their ties to the moon and sun, these informational sections are generally too brief to be truly informative, most obviously in the explanation of low and high tides. Occasionally awkward phrasing further weakens the overall appeal. Despite these flaws, there is plenty to like about Long’s busy artwork and the (mostly) anthropomorphic animals that populate his cheery community. Luckily, the format lends itself to reading sections independently as well as sequentially. Fans of the first book will be amused by spotting Farmer Del, still chasing L’il Beaky, on some spreads while readers new and old will enjoy catching the clever puns and learning a wide variety of vocabulary words. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Overstuffed and not entirely successful, this follow-up is nonetheless fun and entertaining. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-19174-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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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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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...


Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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