Utterly, endearingly ridiculous.



From the Mrs. Noodlekugel series , Vol. 3

Is there a Mr. Noodlekugel? Apparently the answer is yes.

Capt. Noodlekugel is described as "a little man with wonderful whiskers." He's just come back from the sea to visit his wife, and his whiskers are pretty spectacular. They're an endless series of white waves, and they stretch several inches past the end of his face in the illustrations, as though Stower couldn't stop drawing. They look as if they might float off into the sky, like an altostratus cloud. Along with the whiskers, Pinkwater has given the artist all sorts of wonderful things to draw: cake with delicious mushrooms on top and the titular Drooly, a long-snouted bear that the captain is teaching to dance. There's not much plot: the bear is lost and found again. Though nothing really happens in the book, it is hilarious. Even when the characters are just eating dinner, they eat it backward, starting with vegetable cake for dessert and ending with chocolate soup. In its relative eventlessness, the book is a lot like life, but with more bears, as well as mice in nightshirts. The appeal is the loopy conversations about sardines—and the pictures. The artist has surpassed his work in the earlier books, with tightly detailed drawings of things that could never exist and glorious, textured gray ink washes everywhere. Also, the mice wear tiny glasses.

Utterly, endearingly ridiculous. (Fiction. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6645-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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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


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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