This debut picture book will delight more than dog lovers.

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WOLF CAMP

Homer, a goggle-eyed, middle-size houndish-looking canine, yearns to go to Wolf Camp, a place “Where every dog can live as a wolf—for an entire week!”

Yes, a sleep-away camp for dogs. After persistent pestering, the mutt’s given permission to go. On arrival it is introduced to the counselors, enormous, sharp-nosed, shaggy wolves named Fang and Grrr. Zuill’s pen-and-ink drawings with watercolor wash perfectly conveys the dogs’, er, sorry, campers’ inner feelings, from the getting-to-know-you butt sniffs to their expressive eyes as they receive their instructions. Fang’s safety-talk speech bubble is so extensive that the text bleeds off the page. Homer, like any child in a new situation, slowly warms up to the goofy golden retriever–like Rex and the tiny gray Chihuahua Pixie, the fellow campers forming a pack that learns to hunt, howl, and sleep outside like real wolves. Although Homer has a rough start, confiding in a letter home that the “food is yucky and has hair on it” and the bugs “are gross,” when it is time to leave, the tears flow. Readers witness Homer’s return to domesticated life, as the dog curls up on a comfy round bed under a blue electric blanket. Homer is not an unchanged dog, though, but an honorary wolf with a certificate and a howl to prove it.

This debut picture book will delight more than dog lovers. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-50912-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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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