UNDER ONE ROCK

BUGS, SLUGS, AND OTHER UGHS

In a cumulative text in the form of The House That Jack Built, Fredericks (The Wonder of Elephants, not reviewed, etc.) has created a story about the creatures found under a rock: “A village of animals with special features.” Earthworms, ants, spiders, beetles, field crickets, slugs, and a millipede call this rock home, and the author presents each with one unique characteristic in a rhyming couplet: “Some tiny field crickets who sing with their feet / Search near the rock for some seeds they can eat.” The field notes at the back will whet the appetite of budding entomologists, but do not give a substantial amount of information, nor answer questions that may be raised in the reading. For example, although all the insects live in one habitat and the author presents them as “friends” and “neighbors,” one would think that at least the spider and the beetle would eat the others. DiRubbio’s (How Shellmakers Build Their Amazing Homes, not reviewed, etc.) illustrations are brightly colored and done from the perspective of an insect—blades of grass are as tall as the page, the rock appears to be a mountain. But overall it’s nothing special and should be skipped. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-58469-028-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: DAW/Berkley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001

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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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