A sweet and sensitive encouragement of wildlife conservation.

READ REVIEW

ELEPHANTS WALK TOGETHER

The Asian elephants Precious and Baba, friends as calves in the wild, maintain their friendship during mutual captivity and then joyfully rekindle it after a long separation.

In the initial double-page spread, adult elephants are in the background, contentedly grazing against a lush landscape of tropical greenery, while in the foreground, two young elephants happily tussle in mud. Broad brush strokes delineate the grass, while the elephants sport details of skin and hair. The two baby elephants “forage and roam, curious and proud, under a beaming sun.” After a second serene depiction of life in the wild, the story changes: “Until one day, hunters capture the calves and send them away.” Although it is evident that one of the elephants is resisting, the captivity scene is appropriately low-key for young children. The text continues to sound nonjudgmental, and the art is never horrific. Yet readers learn that circus and zoo life is hard on elephants; that Precious and Baba endure both physical and emotional duress when they are separated; that sanctuaries can help. And, of course, that elephants never forget. The skillful art shows elephants in various positions and from different vantage points and varies human skin tones. The ending is a heartwarming tribute to the depth of elephants’ bonds—inspired by the true story of Gypsy and Wanda, according to the author’s note.

A sweet and sensitive encouragement of wildlife conservation. (selected sources) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1960-8

Page Count: 37

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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