New readers will be “HAPPY-HAPPY-HAPPY” to see this promising new series.

HUMPHREY'S REALLY WHEELY RACING DAY

From the Humphrey's Tiny Tales series , Vol. 1

Humphrey, the classroom hamster, is back, this time in a new series for chapter-book readers.

Newly-independent readers are in for a treat with these stories of Humphrey’s adventures on the weekends. Each Friday afternoon, the suspense builds for the little hamster hero as he finds out where his temporary home will be. In this first outing, Humphrey goes home with Mandy (nicknamed Don’t-Complain-Mandy-Payne) and makes friends with her pet hamster, Winky. Winky has a hamster car, propelled by a plastic hamster wheel, and Humphrey is impressed. He loves his own little ball, but it’s not nearly as fabulous as Winky’s car. When Mrs. Brisbane buys a car for Humphrey, the class decides to have a race day—Winky versus Humphrey, and Og, the class frog, versus George, the frog from another class. In the second story (publishing simultaneously), Humphrey’s Playful Puppy Problem, Humphrey goes home with Richie, who plans to use Humphrey in his science experiment. Humphrey has to fend off a too-loving puppy called Poppy and fix the experiment when the pup’s exuberance proves to be too much for it. Birney has created the kind of series that first- and second-grade readers will love. It’s set in school, the vocabulary is accessible, the font and spacing are generous, and the frequent illustrations tie the story together.

New readers will be “HAPPY-HAPPY-HAPPY” to see this promising new series. (Animal fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25201-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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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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