Either sweet or treacly depending on any given reader’s mindset and love for the classic.



The Velveteen Rabbit shares all the ways he’ll be there for his beloved friends.

“When it’s dark and when it’s sunny, / I will always be your bunny. // If the world feels like a muddle, / come on over for a cuddle.” Against simple backgrounds that keep eyes focused on the action and the relationship, Swaney places charming, seemingly watercolor illustrations of diverse children interacting with the Velveteen Rabbit, a long, brown-and-white bunny who is, of course, “alive.” From snuggling in bed and refereeing a sibling disagreement to either moping indoors through the rain or enjoying the puddles, the situations will be familiar to young readers. Though the rabbit lacks a mouth, both the line of his chin and the area where the white of his belly meets brown suggest one, and his emotions are clear through body language. The tiny trim size makes this ideal for sharing one-on-one, and the gift plate on the front endpaper suggests personal rather than public-library use. But the audience remains a question; some vocabulary suits this to older children (“morale,” “BFF,” “ref”), who would also truly understand and appreciate the original Velveteen Rabbit book, but the rhyming and simple pictures are aimed at a younger age group.

Either sweet or treacly depending on any given reader’s mindset and love for the classic. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9341-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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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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