It’s funny, but as a book for beginning readers—which it’s billed as—it misses the mark.

PIGSTICKS AND HAROLD AND THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY

From the Pigsticks and Harold series , Vol. 1

When Pigsticks, a pig with wanderlust, teams up with Harold the hamster, anything can happen.

Pigsticks wants to be just like his ancestor, Col. Pigslet, who traveled to the Ends of the Earth. Unlike the colonel, Pigsticks intends to make it back alive. But he needs an assistant and interviews just about everyone in Tuptown; alas, no one is worthy. And then he meets Harold, who is convinced to join the trip with the promise of three cakes as payment. Silliness ensues as the two make the seemingly never-ending trek through jungles and up mountains and into avalanches to the Ends of the Earth. Humorous cartoon illustrations appear on most pages and extend the text, adding to the chuckles. One especially funny picture shows Harold being squeezed by a boa constrictor while the text remarks, “he wasn’t having quite so much fun.” The story needs the humor. Many very challenging words (“Battenburg,” “persuasive,” “intrepid,” “ravine,” “evasive maneuvers” “ascent,” “unconvinced”) make this a stiff read, even for confident emergent readers. Most pages contain just a few sentences, but a few are so filled with words that many children will be left frustrated. 

It’s funny, but as a book for beginning readers—which it’s billed as—it misses the mark. (Early reader. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6615-6

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

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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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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