An amusing tale that shows the importance of being a good neighbor.

OY, ELEPHANTS!

This picture book poses a wacky question: What would happen if a pair of circus elephants landed in a retirement home for people?

Young Joel is spending part of his “school break” with his Grandpa Morris and Grandma Gussie. He is excited to see them but concerned that time spent in their retirement community will be boring. He does not fret for long because two new neighbors move in during the second day of his stay—and they’re elephants. Joel and his grandparents bring a housewarming gift to the new occupants and learn that they are retired circus elephants named Lou and Martha Helfand. Grandma Gussie invites them to go swimming that afternoon; their neighbors seem unhappy with the new residents. Lou makes a huge splash in the pool when he jumps in, but he and his wife are later welcomed when he saves a dog from drowning. This fun story, lovingly illustrated in full color by Spicer, deftly portrays the impact of compassionate neighbors. Stevenson provides useful information about animal rights groups’ concerns surrounding circus elephants as well as facts about the creatures for curious readers.

An amusing tale that shows the importance of being a good neighbor.

Pub Date: June 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73254-101-6

Page Count: 38

Publisher: Frog Prince Books

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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