Breathtakingly original.

READ REVIEW

THE DAY WE LOST PET

From the opening pages, with lines like “we were piles of skin laundry blending into a world of pales and fogs,” debut author Young transports readers into a world somehow familiar and simultaneously unlike any they have ever experienced.

Two balloon people inhale and exhale each other’s essences, become bonded, and create Baby. Baby’s love brings Pet into the family, an animal made from a different kind of balloon. Tragically, Pet is deflating rapidly. Baby’s parents search desperately for a cure. In this futile process, they are pulled away from each other and from Baby until Baby’s heartbreak brings everyone back together. The language of this story is utterly surreal, but its feelings are recognizable and palpable—bright love, devastating grief, and fragile hope. Debut illustrator Sobieski renders the dreamscape visible with equally poetic illustrations. Splashy watercolors and the ample use of purple and dark green create an otherworldly environment in which the characters experience completely identifiable emotions. Gender isn’t central to the story, but it’s worth noting that Young deliberately avoids gender binaries by writing in the first person and using the third person “they” to refer to the narrator’s partner. This supremely tender book is one that readers will return to again and again, if they can bear it, finding new meaning with each reading and in each new stage of life.

Breathtakingly original. (Picture book. 4-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9987999-3-3

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Penny Candy

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 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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