Visually stunning, highly imaginative, and delightfully baffling.

ON THE DAY THE HORSE GOT OUT

A horse’s escape is major news for the creatures that live in the vicinity.

Creatures, plants, and even forces of nature have various reactions to the horse’s flight, including near panic, curiosity, and joy. A sheep and a cow run, with their bells clanging. Birds fly south, and a spider weaves a gigantic web. Clouds weep, and a beetle has a scary dream. Eggs are broken, and an eagle expresses its distress to the wind. Kids, both human and a goat, dance gleefully, a green fly bids farewell as it flies away, and a bright orange dragonlike comet shouts as it streaks across the sky. When children learn that the clouded skipper has lost a wing, a very careful examination—and an extra bit of research—might be needed. (Alert: A clouded skipper is a species of butterfly.) Through it all, the snowy-white horse seems totally unconcerned as it romps through the pages. The very sharply hued, colorful illustrations are set against a light, bright yellow. Flowers, clouds, and other entities appear to have recognizable, if distorted faces. Each reiteration of the title statement leads to a sequence of four events, told in a single descriptive large-print sentence. Each sequence is then completed by a warning in ever increasing sizes “WATCH OUT, WATCH OUT, the horse is out!” The last warning frames the horse’s leap into a night sky. And who is the goose in cowboy boots? Suspend all disbelief.

Visually stunning, highly imaginative, and delightfully baffling. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-45984-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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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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