IRVING AND MUKTUK

TWO BAD BEARS

The Pinkwaters are a hoot in all the best ways: odd but canny, droll but jazzy. Here they entertain readers with the cockamamie story of two polar bears trying to run a muffin swindle during a New Year’s celebration in the far-north town of Yellowtooth. The bears, Irving and Muktuk—“two polar bears who are no better than they should be”—are a couple of hard cases when it comes to blueberry muffins. They’ll run any scam to get their teeth into the goods at Yellowtooth’s Blueberry Muffin Festival. It’s Officer Bunny’s job to thwart the ursine bores, and the bears make it easy for him. One year they pose as two orphan penguins, until Officer bunny remembers that penguins are from the far south. Another year they impersonate Girl Scouts, but their uniforms are not regulation, so they get bagged. Still another year they pretend to be famous chefs from Bayonne, New Jersey, come to judge the muffins, but their jackets are way too tight and the real chefs are located on an ice floe. Officer Bunny has had enough: He puts out a notice on the Internet that two bears are available and gets a response from Bayonne, where the zoo would be happy to have them. And the town is the muffin capital of the world to boot. Lucky bears. What a pleasurably eccentric story, open to very theatrical readings, and what wry illustrations—a combination, like time and money, that works. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-618-09334-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001

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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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