Lighthearted fun as a read-aloud or read-alone.


What can a pet rhinoceros do? Not a lot, unless it has hidden talents.

A boy looks in the window of an exotic pet store, enters the shop and chooses a rhinoceros. He’s a nice quiet pet and doesn't cause any problems, but he doesn’t do any regular pet things, either. No rolling over or fetching. According to an expert, he should be able to pop balloons and poke holes in kites, but a test run in the park is a dud. Did the boy get a lemon? Should he trade him in for a hippo? A series of mad events follows, in which robbers flee the scene of the crime in, you guessed it, balloons and kites, and our hero rhino saves the day. This special pet can fly, too!  An improbable tale for sure, but Agee strikes just the right note. He tells it with an absolutely straight face in simple unadorned language that will have readers laughing out loud at the antics. The clever format begins the action before the title page, in a silent prelude to the narration. The heavily outlined cartoons are sharp and brightly colored and sprawl across the pages in perfect harmony with the text. Young readers might very well ask for a pet rhino of their own.

Lighthearted fun as a read-aloud or read-alone. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-545-29441-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Michael di Capua/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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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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