Cooped up indoors, a child and a dog track down a broad array of objects.

Toby, a small gray dog with white and black highlights and fitted with a protective lampshade collar, can’t go out because his paw is injured. Tilly, a pale pink child with rosy cheeks and dark brown pigtails, must stay inside “until the big storm passe[s].” Their house is huge and gloomy with nary an adult in sight—what can they do? Staying indoors, they explore, looking for items related to the outdoors. Behind “doors that had always seemed closed” and drawers they’ve never touched, they find “dusty things long forgotten” and “things they had not noticed”: a skateboard, a cane, roller skates, broken umbrellas, and a deflated wading pool. They “tweak…and twiddle” their treasures into a glorious contraption: “The most amazing, astounding, and spectacular Dog-Walking, Storm-Protecting Machine!” Tilly and Toby’s quandary and solution may provide acknowledgement and inspiration for readers spending loads of involuntary time indoors during the coronavirus pandemic—although those readers are unlikely to live in Tilly and Toby’s countryside setting, which has no streets, buildings, or other houses. Garland’s copious and varied rough-but-soft textures on every surface enhance the feeling of rain outdoors and a day that’s hard to swim through while the gently bright colors show Tilly’s creativity and the still-present possibility of fun. The unnecessarily explicit message at the closing is easy to skim over.

Encouraging and timely. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5037-5866-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sunbird Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.


A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 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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