A wry exploration of the symptoms of falling in love

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WHEN AN ELEPHANT FALLS IN LOVE

An elephant in love, it turns out, behaves an awful lot like a besotted human being.

“When an elephant falls in love, he writes letters that he’ll never send. / And he stares at the clouds for hours and hours.” As Cali’s simple, declarative text unfolds, symptom by symptom, Lotti’s equally witty multimedia illustrations depict a large, gray pachyderm acting them out. He is shaped like an upright brick balanced on four absurdly stumpy legs, trunk and tail depending from either end about midway up; he is mottled gray, with just a few lines to describe ears, toenails, and a wrinkle or two and ink-dot eyes. His bulk is played up in each illustration, as when he hides behind a tree that is far too slender to conceal him or tries out a “stylish” outfit with a tiny top hat perched on his forehead. He, an omnipresent yellow bird, and the few items necessary to set the scene appear on, usually, spacious white backgrounds, and this clean focus further heightens the foolishness. There is no doubt kids will be giggling, even though the narrative describes a romantic love that’s quite foreign to their own emotional development. Moreover, kids whose adult caregivers or older siblings are themselves in the throes of new love may recognize more than a few of these behaviors.

A wry exploration of the symptoms of falling in love . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4521-4727-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 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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