This bland addition to the “unusual pets” genre misses most of the comedic possibilities and ends up a long way from...


An all-too-successful cereal promotion leads to surprises, some of them unpleasant, for two lads who send in coupons for a free lion.

As the British import starts out on a cautionary path, makes an abrupt turnabout, and then ends with what could be construed (on this side of the pond, anyway) as trademark infringement, it’s all rather a muddle. After urging readers to ignore cereal coupons, a young narrator describes how he and his brother spent a year’s allowance on 100 boxes of Mr. Flaky cornflakes only to see all their neighbors getting their lions first. Worse yet, they finally receive (because the company had run out of lions) a bad-tempered grizzly bear, a cranky crocodile, and finally a destructive gorilla. But then said animals are suddenly, inexplicably transformed from annoyances to assets (the croc, for instance, obligingly bites open cans). Furthermore, lions aren’t worth the trouble—“EVERYONE’S got one”— but check out the new prize offering: a genial, anthropomorphic tiger! Field’s lackadaisical scenes of tidy suburban chaos, swarms of mostly well-behaved (male) lions, and human figures with exaggerated expressions of dismay or irritation do little to boost the comedy or clarify the message, if any.

This bland addition to the “unusual pets” genre misses most of the comedic possibilities and ends up a long way from “grrrrreat.” (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8027-3836-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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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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From the Diary of a Pug series , Vol. 1

A cuddly, squishy pug’s puggy-wuggy diary.

Equipped with both #pugunicorn and #pughotdog outfits, pug Baron von Bubbles (aka Bub) is the kind of dog that always dresses to impress. Bub also makes lots of memorable faces, such as the “Hey, you’re not the boss of me!” expression aimed at Duchess, the snooty pink house cat. Some of Bub’s favorite things include skateboarding, a favorite teddy, and eating peanut butter. Bub also loves Bella, who adopted Bub from a fair—it was “love at first sniff.” Together, Bub and Bella do a lot of arts and crafts. Their latest project: entering Bella’s school’s inventor challenge by making a super-duper awesome rocket. But, when the pesky neighborhood squirrel, Nutz, makes off with Bub’s bear, Bub accidentally ruins their project. How will they win the contest? More importantly, how will Bella ever forgive him? May’s cutesy, full-color cartoon art sets the tone for this pug-tastic romp for the new-to–chapter-books crowd. Emojilike faces accentuate Bub’s already expressive character design. Bub’s infectious first-person narration pushes the silly factor off the charts. In addition to creating the look and feel of a diary, the lined paper helps readers follow the eight-chapter story. Most pages have fewer than five sentences, often broken into smaller sections. Additional text appears in color-coded speech bubbles. Bella presents white.

Totes adorbs. (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-53003-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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