Humorously speaks to kids’ frustrations but doesn’t support rule-following.


Tongue-in-cheek humor explores that age-old conundrum facing every child who is too short to ride some exciting attraction.

Frank and Harold are best buddies enjoying a day at the fair. They are “slammin’! Ridin’! Spinnin’! Bouncin’!” But this fun cannot compare to that to be had on the Rattler, a big, twisty roller coaster that lights up their eyes and sets their hearts to racing. But to ride, they have to get past the pig in the bow tie and top hat with the measuring stick. Frank, a long, skinny, striped snake, has height to spare, but Harold, a short rattlesnake, does not. Suddenly the fair is not so much fun. But Frank won’t give up on the dream of riding the Rattler together. While his first two plans fail—a disguise and stretching on the flying trapeze—he still has one trick up his sleeve…or is that down his gullet? (And it doesn’t involve platform shoes.) Bright candy-colored watercolor, pencil, and digital illustrations capture the flavor of a fair, spots and double-page spreads used to great effect, and readers must rotate the book 90 degrees every time Harold tries to measure up next to an increasingly angry pig. Unfortunately, Weinberg never addresses the need for height requirements on amusement rides, even in an author’s note, leaving readers feeling that the rule is arbitrary and can be circumvented.

Humorously speaks to kids’ frustrations but doesn’t support rule-following. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2981-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 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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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...


Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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