Not a reliable guide to pet care (or, for that matter, friendship)—but a typically buzzy series outing nonetheless.



From the Fly Guy series

It looks like curtainzzz for Fly Guy and Fly Girl when their pet humans’ new friend comes with a lizard.

New arrival Carlos’ small green pet, Annie, seems harmless enough—cute, even—but “LIZ-Z-ZARD!” and “EATZ FLYZZ!” explain terrified Fly Guy and Fly Girl to readers who might not be in the know. It seems that Carlos isn’t in the know either, as he explains to Buzz and Liz that their buzzy companions aren’t in danger because he feeds Annie on maggots. Uh oh. Even as horrified Buzz and Liz fill Carlos in on what maggots are, a brisk chase is underway elsewhere with slapstick worthy of Looney Tunes. The flies put up a stout defense against their pursuer, zipping out of her way and lifting her by the tail from a branch before letting her fall with a comical splat. They have a final face-off in a can full of rotting garbage. Happily, Annie turns out to be fonder of soggy fries than flies, and by the end prey and predator have become “friendzzies!” In the cartoon illustrations Fly Girl is pink and has a bow fastened to one antenna, but Annie shows no such gendered markers, and all three children have the same slightly toned light skin.

Not a reliable guide to pet care (or, for that matter, friendship)—but a typically buzzy series outing nonetheless. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-54925-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.


Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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