Obviously intended as a gift for Mother’s Day, this relatively attractive title will likely help meet that demand. Too bad...


This energetically illustrated tribute to mothers challenges readers to consider many different feelings associated with the word “Mom.”

Knapman’s text puts forth a series of questions and declarations in rhyme. “What’s the word that feels like a cuddle? / Like splashing and sploshing through a great big puddle?” His language piles clue on clue by comparing the elusive word to a warm “good-night kiss” or one “that tastes like an ice-cream sundae.” Like a magic word that can both mean “Get well soon” and evoke “a firework [that] lights up the night,” the intended message gets muddled. Putting the confusing concept of the book aside, readers will respond to the spirited illustrations Littler creates. The focus is on a gray-and-white dog whose pricked-up ears, wagging tail and wide range of emotional expressions instantly appeal. Generous white space allows the large typeface and the pictures full of action to balance each other. Readers of all ages will feel the glee of sliding down a steep red slide at top speed and feel the soppy despair of getting caught in the rain. Of course, the “word that so much joy comes from… / …is… / ‘Mom!’ ”

Obviously intended as a gift for Mother’s Day, this relatively attractive title will likely help meet that demand. Too bad the concept inside is less than successful. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-58925-157-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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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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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.


A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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