Young readers will love the moment when Moe turns from snail to human child.

SLOW MOE

A sweet harangue against the failings of little siblings everywhere.

They are too slow; they are too messy; they take away too much attention from everyone, especially parents. As the protagonist lists little brother Moe’s failings, he appears as a giant snail placidly spooning Cheerios one by one into his mouth and leaving an impressive trail of slime and discarded items in his wake. However, when adults are not around, younger siblings can be fun. It is when the protagonist is alone with Moe that his joyful, exuberant, human-self emerges. Kid Moe runs fast, and his favorite game is tag. He also plays basketball and hopscotch, jumps rope, and climbs the monkey bars. The book is filled with wonderful details: Mom’s raised eyebrows, Dad’s striped socks and no shoes, and the protagonist’s fiercely crossed arms. Slow Moe the snail takes up at least a quarter of the couch, and the stairway carpet drips through the railings (or is that more slime?). Lent Roland, the French edition, publishes simultaneously, and Rachel Martinez’s translation offers some delights absent from the original, such as the title character’s contrast with his 11th-century literary forebear. In either language, the title character reminds readers that we are different people depending upon whom we are with and that familial relationships are complex and simple at the same time. Characters appear to be white.

Young readers will love the moment when Moe turns from snail to human child. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2352-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Hee haw.

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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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Roller-coaster enthusiasts or not, children will eagerly join our intrepid hero on this entertaining ride.

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THE PIGEON WILL RIDE THE ROLLER COASTER!

The Pigeon is on an emotional—and physical—roller coaster.

Since learning about the existence of roller coasters, he’s become giddy with excitement. The Pigeon prepares mentally: He’ll need a ticket and “exemplary patience” to wait in line. He envisions zooming up and down and careening through dizzying turns and loops. Then, he imagines his emotions afterward: exhilaration, post-ride blues, pride at having accomplished such a feat, and enthusiasm at the prospect of riding again. (He’ll also feel dizzy and nauseous.) All this before the Pigeon ever sets claw on an actual coaster. So…will he really try it? Are roller coasters fun? When the moment comes, everything seems to go according to plan: waiting in line, settling into the little car, THEN—off he goes! Though the ride itself isn’t quite what the Pigeon expected, it will delight readers. Wearing his feelings on his wing and speaking directly to the audience in first person, the Pigeon describes realistic thoughts and emotions about waiting and guessing about the unknown—common childhood experiences. No sentiment is misplaced; kids will relate to Pigeon’s eagerness and apprehension. The ending falls somewhat flat, but the whole humorous point is that an underwhelming adventure can still be thrilling enough to warrant repeating. Willems’ trademark droll illustrations will have readers giggling. The roller-coaster attendant is light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Roller-coaster enthusiasts or not, children will eagerly join our intrepid hero on this entertaining ride. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4549-4686-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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