Still, this sweet family story stands alone and should attract new fans.

READ REVIEW

VIOLET MACKEREL'S NATURAL HABITAT

From the Violet Mackerel series , Vol. 3

Seven-year-old Violet’s Theory of Helping Small Things doesn’t work out well for a ladybug, but it does inspire her big sister Nicola’s successful natural science project.

In this third in a series of Australian imports starring this appealing, inventive child, Violet turns her attention to small creatures: a sparrow in the shopping center and an undersized ladybug from the colony living under the fennel in the garden. Though Small Gloria doesn’t survive in the habitat Violet builds, the beetle is appropriately honored in her sister’s model of ladybug habitats, as well as being buried and remembered in a simple ceremony. A new verse for “These are a Few of My Favorite Things” helps to provide closure. The death of animals, whether through accidents or of natural causes, often weighs heavily on children, and this deceptively simple early chapter book takes such concerns seriously without getting stuck there. Each short chapter is a complete event, but readers will be led on by their need to know what happens next. The finished book will include black-and-white illustrations (not seen) and the distinctively designed chapter numbers (they look like they’ve been knit out of yarn) of previous titles. Readers who met Violet earlier will feel right at home.

Still, this sweet family story stands alone and should attract new fans. (Fiction. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-3594-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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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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