Who knows if the TV-news format can stay fresh much longer, but the bears are sweetly rendered, and the chaos that unfolds...

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BEARS TO THE RESCUE

From the Breaking News series

Escaped bears return to mix it up among humans, but this time it's to save their cub as they all become media celebrities in a lively parody of TV news.

The friendly, smarter-than-the-average bears from Biedrzycki's Bear Alert (2014) get more media exposure when their little one climbs into a truck full of teddy bears and ends up at a carnival. The bombastic crew from Channel 3 News chases the story as it unfolds, complete with glossy graphics, man-on-the-street interviews, and a running news crawl ("WITNESSES SAY BEARS LOOK STRANGELY FAMILIAR"). In a neat conceit, all the book's text is in these crawlers or in speech bubbles spoken by the Channel 3 talking heads. The gimmick works, though young readers may not be as up-to-speed on the visual language of 24-hour TV news as their parents. Good thing the verbal handoffs from reporters to anchors move the story along briskly and the gorgeous illustrations are of a quality that calls to mind big-budget 3-D–animated films. That means highly detailed backgrounds packed with visual jokes (a father misses the bear drama because he's staring at his smartphone while on the Ferris wheel) and carnivalgoing characters who are refreshingly diverse and keenly imagined.

Who knows if the TV-news format can stay fresh much longer, but the bears are sweetly rendered, and the chaos that unfolds around them entertains even without the frame . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58089-624-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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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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