Even the most bee-phobic readers will have a hard time resisting this swarm of humor and fact.



Following much the same format as in I’m Trying to Love Spiders (2015), Barton makes a strong case for the value of bees.

Edgar, a torpedo-shaped white kid with googly eyes and a scribble of hair, loves everything the narrator does, including dinosaurs, strawberries, and honey, but he’s not so sure about bees. The narrator proceeds to persuade him to “give bees a chance,” telling him there are “about 25,000 different kinds of bees to love” (a sampling of which are introduced on front and rear endpapers), describing the composition of a honeybee colony and honeybee anatomy, and regaling him with cool bee facts. Edgar’s still not sure, because, he says, “they’re all gonna sting me!” Since many readers likely share Edgar’s apprehension, Barton’s counter to this is delightfully kidcentric: “most bees lose their stinger after attacking,” she says, “which would be like your hand disappearing if you pinched your sister!” Edgar remains unconvinced, so Barton drills down on the importance of bee pollination to the world’s food supply, illustrating it with a strawberry plant that says, “throw me some pollen! I don’t have arms.” Barton’s digital mix of scribbly cartoons and comics-style panels, splashy, watercolor-effect backgrounds, and exuberant hand-lettering makes for a high-energy celebration of all things Apis.

Even the most bee-phobic readers will have a hard time resisting this swarm of humor and fact. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-670-01694-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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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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