Look—and laugh out loud.


Where is Bear? Here, there, anywhere?

A zany assortment of animals, among them a conceited author-duck suffering from major ursine jealousy and an animal who signs its name ANONYMOUSE, all offer commentary, directions, and advice on bear-spotting in colorful speech bubbles. Readers in this very interactive title are invited to open a door only to find an embarrassed giraffe seated on the toilet. A boar, not a bear, holding a pear shares a page with a “bare hare.” Bear’s paw prints march across the pages, and he is seen posing majestically in a silhouetted shadow. But look closely at one leg held aloft in a graceful arabesque. Yes, it is not Bear but Duck’s Amazing Bird Pyramid. Even the paint-speckled author/illustrator joins in the quest as she stares in astonishment at the crowded two-page spread of her very own creatures, including a broom-wielding crocodile who loves to sweep—but no Bear. Finally: “WE FOUND HIM!!!” Or did we? Pham’s colorful digital illustrations against white pages depict moose, mice, and many other entertaining critters. Readers are encouraged to explore, pore over details, and follow the comical clues. The wordplay is delightfully nonsensical.

Look—and laugh out loud. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59643-970-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.


Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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