“Sniffle snuffle snork!” Giggle!


The medieval village of Handkerchief has a loud and drippy problem.

The constant sound of sneezing, coughing, and sniffling from Castle Gesundheit is keeping the villagers awake. No one can sleep; everyone has dark circles. They’ve tried everything: pillows over their ears, ears plugged with fingers, even books over their ears. Most Handkerchiefians are scared to approach the castle, but little Fiona’s had enough. No one will lower the drawbridge for her, so she needs to get creative (nothing works until she finds a cat door to wriggle through). Inside, she finds plenty of cats, but, following the sound of the ahhh-choos, only one human. Baron Von Sneeze has no one to take care of him—everyone’s left because of the noise. Fiona asks if he eats well and keeps warm and tries to get enough sleep…yes, yes, yes. She asks if he has seen a doctor. He’s seen the best (and a witch and a wizard!). Based on her investigation and the feline population, Fiona draws the obvious conclusion. But the cats can’t go! The Von Sneezes have kept cats for generations…so Fiona comes up with an innovative plan that works for everyone. Fearing’s silly, sniffling tale might have a simple throughline, but the comical cartoon illustrations of the stouthearted girl and bewigged baron layer the laughs in the details—many of which are just cats being cats. Both Fiona and the baron present White; among the citizenry of Handkerchief are a few people of color.

“Sniffle snuffle snork!” Giggle! (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1412-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning.


Children realize their dreams one step at a time in this story about growth mindset.

A child crashes and damages a new bicycle on a dark, rainy day. Attempting a wheelie, the novice cyclist falls onto the sidewalk, grimacing, and, having internalized this setback as failure, vows to never ride again but to “walk…forever.” Then the unnamed protagonist happens upon a glowing orb in the forest, a “thought rearranger-er”—a luminous pink fairy called the Magical Yet. This Yet reminds the child of past accomplishments and encourages perseverance. The second-person rhyming couplets remind readers that mistakes are part of learning and that with patience and effort, children can achieve. Readers see the protagonist learn to ride the bike before a flash-forward shows the child as a capable college graduate confidently designing a sleek new bike. This book shines with diversity: racial, ethnic, ability, and gender. The gender-indeterminate protagonist has light brown skin and exuberant curly locks; Amid the bustling secondary cast, one child uses a prosthesis, and another wears hijab. At no point in the text is the Yet defined as a metaphor for a growth mindset; adults reading with younger children will likely need to clarify this abstract lesson. The artwork is powerful and detailed—pay special attention to the endpapers that progress to show the Yet at work.

A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02562-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 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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