Certain children will read anything about horses; this book relies too heavily on that fact.

SPARKLING JEWEL

From the Silver Pony Ranch series , Vol. 1

When 9-year-old Tori and her 8-year-old sister, Miranda, arrive at their grandmother's Silver Pony Ranch to spend the summer, Tori is immediately smitten with Gran’s new pony, Jewel.

Jewel, however, is livelier than Gran's other ponies, and Tori can't even manage to groom her before the pony misbehaves, let alone ride her. Miranda prefers Gran's dog's puppies to the ponies; the sisters squabble about that and about sharing a room. On the second day of their visit, Tori sneaks out to see Jewel before breakfast and accidentally turns the pony loose—she can't be caught until Gran intervenes. That afternoon, a puppy goes missing after a trail ride; sneaking out to the stables at night to look for it, Tori again leaves Jewel's stall open while braiding a fancy ribbon in her tail. Somehow, Tori's repeated misbehavior inspires Gran to allow her to ride the pony. The puppy comes home, and all ends well. The first in a series designed for chapter-book readers, the story will appeal to pony-crazy girls but appall their safety-conscious parents or anyone who really understands horse behavior. Though Tori narrates, her character seems limited to whining about Jewel.

Certain children will read anything about horses; this book relies too heavily on that fact. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-79766-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2015

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Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow,...

MY NEW FRIEND IS SO FUN!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Can Gerald and Piggie’s friendship withstand the friendly overtures of Brian Bat?

When Snake informs Gerald that Piggie is playing with Brian Bat, he is at first complacent. Brian is “nice,” he observes; Snake concurs—after all, he says, “Brian is my Best Friend!” Their mutual reflection that Piggie and Brian “must be having a super-duper fun time!” turns, however, to paranoia when they realize that if their best pals “are having that much fun together, then… / …maybe they do not need us” (that last is printed in teeny-tiny, utterly demoralized type). Gerald and Snake dash/slither to put an end to the fun. Their fears are confirmed when the two new buddies tell them they have “been playing BEST FRIEND GAMES!”—which, it turns out, means making drawings of their respective best friends, Gerald and Snake. Awww. While the buildup to the friends’ confrontation is characteristically funny, there’s a certain feeling of anticlimax to the story’s resolution. How many young children, when playing with a new friend, are likely to spend their time thinking of the friends that they are not playing with? This is unfortunate, as the emotions that Gerald and Snake experience are realistic and profound, deserving of more than a platitudinous, unrealistic response.

Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow, color-coded speech bubbles, hilarious body language—except an emotionally satisfying ending. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7958-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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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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