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THE LIBRARY FISH LEARNS TO READ

From the Library Fish series

Amusing if somewhat restrained.

The sequel to The Library Fish (2022) lets little ones know that reading is for everyone—including our aquatic friends.

Library Fish has a satisfying life in a bowl on the desk of librarian Mr. Hughes. She loves watching children browse the shelves, but her favorite moment is storytime. When Mr. Hughes shares a book about a dog who learns to read, Library Fish is inspired. After the library closes for the night, she emerges from her bowl (a bubble of water securely on her head) and begins to learn her ABCs: “Hour after hour, night after night, she made sure she knew every letter and each sound it made. F for fish was one of her favorites. Z-z-z-z’s were always welcome after a long night’s work.” Capucilli emphasizes the hard work that often goes into acquiring this skill. The story might be a little too long and a little too quiet for many new readers, as the resolution after the protagonist masters reading—Library Fish deciding to read a book to her friend the Bookmobile—is implied rather than seen, and there’s little fanfare for the accomplishment. Many children will enjoy the colorful digital illustrations depicting an endearingly expressive Library Fish and a diverse group of patrons who frequent the library. Ultimately, though, it may be librarians and educators who appreciate this story more than the intended audience. Mr. Hughes presents as Black. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Amusing if somewhat restrained. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7707-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2022

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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. 28, 2018

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WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

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

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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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