Stiff verse aside, the book has undeniable child appeal.

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THE MOUSE AND THE MEADOW

An inquisitive field mouse ventures from his nest for the first time and encounters various creatures—big and small, friend and foe—all while learning and teaching readers about the habitat of a meadow.

Wallace uses digital media to create photorealistic spreads for his rhyming adventure. The focus is on one particularly charming mouse whose curiosity leads him to have informative conversations with the likes of a web-spinning spider, an industrious bee, a caterpillar beginning its transformation and a wise box turtle. “The mouse gave his attention to the turtle’s candid words, / Which warned the mouse of hidden snakes and predatory birds. / So far he was fond of all the dwellers in this ’hood, / That is until he came upon a patch of rotting wood….” In dramatic scenes, a sinuous snake and a fearsome owl come close to harming the little rodent. But there are tender, rosy-hued moments in which he shares a furry rabbit’s burrow and wondrous ones in which the mouse first discovers a group of fireflies. Most impressive is the perspective—always from the mouse’s big eyes. As the mouse’s adventures come to a close, the tiny creature meets up with another of his kind who promises friendship and perhaps a bit of romance at the close.

Stiff verse aside, the book has undeniable child appeal. (notes, suggested activities) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-58469-481-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dawn Publications

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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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