Fun, quirky obsessions nurtured and celebrated.

READ REVIEW

SHAWN LOVES SHARKS

Shawn knows just about everything there is to know about sharks, but friendship proves a little trickier to grasp in Manley and Subisak’s collaboration.

Shawn, a light-skinned boy of color, loves sharks, and his love is deep—deeper than the waters in which sharks live, deeper than the gaze of their dark eyes. He loves their “streamlined shape” and their “big mouths full of sharp teeth,” and he especially loves pretending to be a shark at recess, chasing classmates across the playground. When his brown-skinned teacher tells everyone that they’ll be learning about the predator that they each pick from a bowl, Shawn can barely contain his enthusiasm for the project as he takes his place in line, reaches excitedly into the bowl, and confidently draws…a leopard seal. Across the room, Asian classmate Stacy has picked the great white shark, and no matter how much Shawn begs—grovels!—to trade, not only is he stuck with the seal, but he is also suddenly no longer the top predator on the playground. Manley’s spare text is an excellent conductor for the dynamic energy built in Subisak’s clean, open spreads as Shawn’s passion for sharks spills onto the page. And as Shawn’s fascination (and research skills) expands to embrace leopard seals, his exuberance for predators makes a surprisingly strong foundation for a new friendship.

Fun, quirky obsessions nurtured and celebrated. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-134-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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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