A fun, lively, accessible primer on the democratic process (good for weary adults, too).

THE PRESIDENT OF THE JUNGLE

From Brazil, a refreshing look at the way democratic elections work.

Lion, the King of the Jungle, wants a swimming pool, but when he diverts all the river water to fill in his front yard, the other animals begin to wonder if he “should not be King of the Jungle.” Deciding they want a new leader, the animals plan to hold an election, and Monkey, Sloth, Snake, and Lion decide they want to be candidates. They campaign and hold debates. Important vocabulary such as “candidate,” “campaign,” and “vote” are set in bold in the friendly typeface, and their definitions are presented in a glossary on the final page. Narrative text combines with dialogue bubbles to keep the pace lively and the concept engagingly simple. The equally friendly-looking illustrations were made using paper cutouts with pencil and charcoal “doodles,” the animals fancifully colored against a largely gray-and-white jungle background. The visual result is casual, integrative, and altogether fun. Together, the words and pictures bring to life a democratic election that is stripped of acrimony, divisiveness, and ignorance and is instead full of engagement, discussion, and earnestness—but not sappiness. Young readers are introduced to the idea of an engaged electorate, a concept whose empowerment will hopefully stay with them as they age.

A fun, lively, accessible primer on the democratic process (good for weary adults, too). (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1474-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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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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