Readers may finish this book and move straight to Brooklyn.

BROOKLYN BAILEY, THE MISSING DOG

This picture book could serve as a tourist’s guide to Brooklyn.

Yotam has the sort of neighbors anyone might wish for: Debbie, who walks her turtle and pit bull at the same time; the man with a big bushy beard; the man with 10 cats. (The neighborhood is multicultural, but Yotam’s family is white.) All the neighbors try to help out when Yotam’s dog runs away after being startled. He had tied Bailey’s leash to a metal chair, which is pretty much the definition of “accident waiting to happen,” and no pet owner will have trouble believing the book was inspired by a true story. The creators—especially VanderPloeg—get every detail right: There’s the woman with the “BUSY LADY” tote bag. There’s Yotam’s anxious fantasy that Bailey is at the Prospect Park Zoo, sleeping on a branch like a monkey. The off-kilter perspective in the illustrations is enchanting but difficult to describe; if Grandma Moses and Maira Kalman could have a baby, that baby would paint this book. The tone of the story moves flawlessly from genuinely hilarious (the scene where Bailey runs with a metal chair even incorporates sound effects) to bittersweet and mysterious: Bailey returns, but she’s slightly injured, and the last line is: “He would never know where she had gone those missing nights, but he knew where she would be sleeping tonight.” Whew.

Readers may finish this book and move straight to Brooklyn. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-55273-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Hee haw.

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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

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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