A lick on the nose to all who lend a helping paw.

BEAST IN SHOW

Julia discovers that there’s more than one way to be a winner when she enters her beloved dog, Huxley, in a show.

What kind of a show? “Just a totally normal dog show,” says a judge—but considering that Huxley is up, in the illustrations anyway, against competitors like a dragon, a winged unicorn, and a floating green teddy bear with antennae, will Huxley get much attention? Backflips and barking on command don’t make much of an impression. Nor do Julia’s frantic attempts to up her outgoing pooch’s game with ribbons and other froufrou. But when the front-running unicorn takes a fall in the climactic round, it’s Huxley’s encouraging nose lick that gets him back on his hooves and on to the finish. In the end, even though the “Best In Show” wreath goes to the unicorn, it’s the helpful hound who brings the cheering audience to its feet and earns a ride on the grateful winner’s back. Stone depicts Julia and her dad with light-brown skin amid racially diverse background groups of owners and onlookers. As in her narrative Staniszewski never lets on that the competitors are other than canine, there’s a droll disconnect between the text and the pictures that even very young readers will enjoy. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70% of actual size.)

A lick on the nose to all who lend a helping paw. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62779-126-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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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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