Familiar ground, with an effulgent new look.



Three urban-dwelling foxes head to the countryside in search of a little quiet.

The trio lives in the big city, where it is all “rumble, rumble, chitter, chatter,” to which the foxes add their “hopping and bopping...banging and clanging.” Enough. “Wouldn’t it be nice to be quiet sometimes?” asks Fox Number One. Once in the country, they enter Goldilocks mode: the owl’s home is too high, the mole’s is too dark, the frog’s is too wet, and the badger’s is too quiet—a shrewd little twist that should make readers think. As the three wander through the youthful, color-crazy landscapes, they pull out their various noisemakers (“The noisy foxes were tired of being quiet”) and start up a woodland stomp. A passing, quiet-loving mouse shows the foxes the ideal place for them to find a home. Shifting into Wizard of Oz mode, they find themselves right back in their urban digs. Home is where the noise is. Clearly the storyline doesn’t turn any new turf, but Husband’s artwork is a showstopper. Some pages have as many as five panels, some are double-page spreads, so the flow is both nimble and steady. The characters have both eyes on one side of their heads, like flatfish, which somehow makes them extremely sympathetic; and the color is as rich and varied as a full deployment of the largest box of crayons.

Familiar ground, with an effulgent new look. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0154-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bee

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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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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