Inviting their readers to choose the answer themselves, this skillful author-illustrator pair again encourages their senses...

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THE MOST AMAZING CREATURE IN THE SEA

Who is the most amazing creature in the sea?

Following the format of their The Greatest Dinosaur Ever (2013), Guiberson and Spirin offer answers to that question from a dozen amazing sea creatures, plus a passel of helpers. Paintings on double-page spreads show each animal in its likely habitat. In text running across the bottom of the spread, each creature, from box jellyfish to wolffish, explains why it deserves the “most amazing” title. These short justifications are full of the kinds of facts children love. The leatherback sea turtle dives deepest, the shape-changing mimic octopus is a “master of disguise,” a female anglerfish sees and eats on behalf of the males it has absorbed, and so forth. After introducing the most venomous, most evasive, slimiest, most frost-resistant, and most enormous creatures, the author surprises by describing some of the smallest: the menhaden, oysters, sea urchins, coral, remora, wrasse, and krill who keep the fish and their waters clean and feed the larger jellies, cephalopods, fish, turtles, and whales. The illustrations, created with tempera, watercolor, and pencil and emphasizing shades of green and brown, evoke the mystery of the ocean depths, a concept reinforced in a concluding author’s note.

Inviting their readers to choose the answer themselves, this skillful author-illustrator pair again encourages their senses of wonder at the natural world. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9961-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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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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