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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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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