Emotionally charged and eloquently rendered in words and art, this picture book is worth owning and cherishing.


In times of need, uneasy alliances align. Enemies become partners, if only for a little while.

This sweet picture book, told in rhyming couplets, pairs Vaught’s lean, soothing text with Murphy’s exquisite illustrations. Vaught is a practicing neuropsychologist and a lover of animals. Both traits play well in this tale that imagines a dark and stormy night in which its barnyard beasts must decide whether to shelter outsiders. A family of foxes is caught out in the storm, and the mother is desperate to protect her kits. Understandably, the farm animals, normally prey for the fox, are not eager to share the warmth of their barn. However, the generous actions of the tiniest among them, a yellow duckling, allow the other creatures to see that in this time of crisis, even foxes need refuge. Murphy creates stunning images of deep blue stormy skies, and cows’, pigs’, chicken’s, and other animals’ emotion-filled eyes. Scenes that shift between the cold, wet out-of-doors and the cozy, well-lit interior emphasize the foxes’ predicament. Vaught’s clipped, staccato couplets speed the pacing along, occasionally halting so readers can take in Murphy’s well-timed wordless spreads. One, in which mother fox and duckling commune silently, muzzle to bill, will have readers lingering and pondering.

Emotionally charged and eloquently rendered in words and art, this picture book is worth owning and cherishing. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0586-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.


All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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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