A kid-friendly yet profound confection.

READ REVIEW

CRAB CAKE

TURNING THE TIDE TOGETHER

Sea creatures fortified by pastries work together to clean up their home.

“Under the sea, where sunlight touches sand,” aquatic animals live mostly in peace. “Scallop does loop-de-loops,” “Octopus hides in a coconut,” “The venomous Lionfish does whatever she pleases,” and “Crab bakes cakes.” Each full-page spread is a delight of detail, with adorable, expressive creatures that kids can pore over at length. The bright colors suddenly darken, though, when “one night, there’s a BIG SPLASH!” and a barge dumps a load of trash into their habitat. The animals freeze, horrified, but Crab gathers its fortitude and bakes yet another cake. The sea creatures collect as a community, eating and discussing what to do next, and they come up with a plan to send the trash back to the humans. Each animal does what it can to help (each with its own distinctive, vigorous verb), and soon life under the sea is back to normal. The tone shifts dramatically in this surprising story, from light and fun to serious and upsetting, gently but clearly showing children how everyone has unique skills and interests that they can use in support of community or a common goal. Just baking a cake might seem frivolous, but readers come away with the idea that nourishing and supporting one another is the only way to change the world.

A kid-friendly yet profound confection. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-544-95900-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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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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