An informative and entertaining introduction to this intriguing endangered species.

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WILD ORCA

THE OLDEST, WISEST WHALE IN THE WORLD

A young girl named Mia is the main character of this story about orcas living in the San Juan Islands of Washington state.

Mia’s father is a scientist who studies the whales, and she has grown up learning about orcas from him. She explains in an engaging way how the whales live in pods and how they communicate with their own distinct sounds. Much of the factual information focuses on Granny, a senior leader of three whale pods, who lived to be over 100 years old. Evocative watercolor illustrations show the appealing whales swimming and communicating, with the text integrating the whales’ signature sounds into the story. Dangers to the whales are briefly discussed, with a hopeful conclusion showing all three whale pods swimming playfully together. One arresting spread requires turning the book from landscape to portrait orientation so that Granny’s huge size can be spotlighted as she seems ready to leap out from the page. Mia and her mother have golden-tan skin and straight, black hair; her father has light skin. Background characters—people who’ve come to the island to await the whales and sing for them—have a variety of skin tones. An author’s note offers more information about orcas, and the endpapers provide an arresting map showing the Pacific Northwest superimposed over a huge orca.

An informative and entertaining introduction to this intriguing endangered species. (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-11069-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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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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