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MONKEY AND ELEPHANT

A welcome addition to the early-reader shelf.

Odd couples abound in early readers (see Mo Willems’ Gerald and Piggie, Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad, Wong Herbert Yee’s Mouse and Mole, to name a few), but there’s room for Monkey and Elephant, too.

The eponymous characters try “to rest under the afternoon sun,” but it’s too hot, so they go in search of shade. Over the course of a journey initially fraught with bickering, they quickly resolve problems and even end up cheerily singing together. In chapter three, they mistake a distant group of wild cats for a cluster of shade trees, but Elephant handily defends Monkey when they say they want to eat her. “How about…you guys have DUST CAKE for snack today?” he responds, scuffing up the ground. Accompanying digital art shows the striped cats sitting stunned into submission, their eyes looking upward to an off-stage Elephant—though dust clouds are absent, diminishing the drama. There’s a Horton-esque quality about Bernstein’s Elephant throughout, and both he and Monkey exude personality. This achievement in visual characterization is matched by Schaefer’s text, which employs controlled word choices and embeds careful repetition in support of the emerging reader.

A welcome addition to the early-reader shelf. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 27, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4840-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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THE COOL BEAN MAKES A SPLASH

From the I Can Read! series

Another quirky take on the series theme that it’s cool to be kind.

The cool beans again step up to do a timorous fellow legume a fava…this time at the pool.

Will a rash decision to tackle the multistory super-slide lead to another embarrassing watery fail for our shy protagonist? Nope, for up the stairs right behind comes a trio of cool beans, each a different type and color, all clad in nothing but dark shades. They make an offer: “It’s not as scary if you go with friends!” As the knobby nerd explains once the thrilling ride down is done, “They all realized that I just needed some encouragement and support.” Just to make sure that both cool and uncool readers get the message, the narrator lets us know that “there are plenty of kind folks who have my back. They’re always there when I need them.” The beany bonhomie doesn’t end at the bottom of the slide, with all gliding down to the shallow end of the pool (“3 INCHES. NO DIVING”) for a splashy finale. This latest early reader starring characters from John and Oswald’s immensely popular Food Group series will be a hit with fans. Fun accessories, such as a bean who rocks pink cat-eye frames, add some pizzazz to the chromatically and somatotypically varied cast.

Another quirky take on the series theme that it’s cool to be kind. (Easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2024

ISBN: 9780063329560

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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