A barrel of giggles, exaltation of friendship, and slight science to boot.



Sea Monkey (a dapper, bow-tied brine shrimp) and Bob (a green-speckled puffer fish) both face a worrisome underwater plight—density.

Surrounded by blue water and colorful corals, Sea Monkey is very concerned. What if his tiny but heavier-than-it-looks frame sinks to the bottom of the ocean? It is dark and scary down there. Bob thinks the idea is absurd, but Sea Monkey’s logical list of heavy items such as anchors, tubas, rocks—even dinosaurs—changes his mind. (“You have never seen a dinosaur,” admonishes Bob. “That is true. But I’m pretty sure they sink,” Sea Monkey fires back.) But now Bob is worried. What if his very light frame floats to the top? There is air up there! He begins to list items that float, and terror seizes both oceanic creatures. But just as their worst fears begin to come true (“It is happening! I think I am floating, Sea Monkey!”), a clever solution stops them in their tracks. Sea Monkey and Bob’s wry, deadpan riffs match Ohi’s humorous digital asides. The text is told entirely in color-coded dialogue, Sea Monkey’s lines printed in pink-outlined white letters and Bob’s in green-outlined yellow. The ending feels slapdash given the relaxed pacing of the pair’s banter to that point, but readers’ funny bones won’t mind.

A barrel of giggles, exaltation of friendship, and slight science to boot. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-0676-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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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 lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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