The story should please those hopeful readers who are puppy-starved themselves, while the learning hidden within should set...

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HENRY'S HEART

Tongue-in-cheek, label-happy humor reminiscent of Mélanie Watts abounds in Harper’s latest, a genius pairing of fiction and nonfiction.

Starting off with some X-ray views of a young boy and his heart, readers are presented with some facts and misconceptions about the human heart, made painless by the humorous speech-bubble asides from Henry’s sister and friends. One fact above all is emphasized—a healthy heart that pumps blood and removes waste requires exercise and proper nutrition. Therefore, Henry’s mother sends him outside for some fresh air, and his Dad invites him for a walk downtown…the fateful walk on which he first sees the love of his life. She sets his heart beating so wildly that the anthropomorphized organ has to ask Henry’s eyes what is going on to cause such a reaction. Leaving the puppy in the pet store seems to break poor Henry’s spirit—he can only mope in his room, while his heart bemoans the lack of exercise. Henry’s concerned parents finally consult a doctor, whose prescription pleases everyone, especially Henry’s exercise-starved heart. Harper’s acrylic-and-collage artwork with its filled-in stick figures is a perfect match for the irreverent humor of the text. From the amusing asides to the charts about healthy snacks and causes of rapid heartbeats, there will be few page turns unaccompanied by laughter.

The story should please those hopeful readers who are puppy-starved themselves, while the learning hidden within should set parents’ and educators’ hearts aflutter. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 22, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8989-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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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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