This Zen exploration of belonging and groundedness is further enhanced by a sensitive translation and pithy, philosophical...

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FEATHER

In this first collaboration between Chinese author Cao and Brazilian artist Mello—both of whom are recent Hans Christian Andersen award winners—a feather embarks on a quest to discover to whom she belongs.

From a kingfisher and cuckoo to wild geese and a peacock, the birds universally ignore Feather at first but ultimately convey the same message: she does not belong to them. The protagonist believes that finding her bird of origin will enable her to fly even higher, so she continues the journey. The creatures have distinctive voices, and the compositions fuse a sense of Asian design with a South American palette. Each bird takes center stage on the double-page spreads, a marvel of extravagant pattern against solid, vibrant backgrounds. Pottery and natural features provide occasional context. The feather is an abstract silhouette on the right border of each scene. At the climax, a kindly skylark lifts Feather to new heights but falls prey, alas, to a circling hawk. (The demise occurs offstage.) Devastated, Feather floats to Earth, where she eventually spots a parade of chicks marching into the sunshine; mother hen is missing a feather. The author wisely allows readers to ponder a potential conversation and next steps.

This Zen exploration of belonging and groundedness is further enhanced by a sensitive translation and pithy, philosophical introductions by both creators—masterful storytelling. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-914671-85-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Elsewhere Editions

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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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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