By the end students will either be dreading or looking forward to their own tadpole studies.


The opening and closing life-cycle endpapers differ in only one small way, but it makes all the difference to a class that must deal with the fallout of their teacher’s love for a class pet.

Mr. Stricter is excited on the day the science project hatches: “I always wanted a pet.” The class can keep just one tadpole, releasing the rest back “into the wild.” They choose Bruno. But observant readers will notice that Bruno displays some key differences from the other tadpoles, differences that grow and grow as the days pass. The students quickly see that Bruno is a menace—breaking furniture, eating supplies, and snoring and farting at inopportune times—but love is blind for Mr. Stricter. That is until he gets a much closer view of his new pet. An internal one. His quick-thinking students save the day, and Bruno joins the tadpoles in the wild. But what about the next science project that hatches? No worries. A trip to the pet store satisfies everyone. The palette of mustard yellow, avocado green, turquoise, red, and bright orange gives the illustrations a retro look that is reinforced by Mr. Stricter’s cardigan, bow tie, and high-top sneakers, though he also has a laptop. Mr. Stricter is white, but OHora’s students are notably diverse, his palette also leading to interesting skin and hair colors.

By the end students will either be dreading or looking forward to their own tadpole studies. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-4364-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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Hee haw.

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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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