Readers may stage their own pet shows, but here’s hoping they are more affirmative of their own pets than Grimelda is.

GRIMELDA AND THE SPOOKTACULAR PET SHOW

Grimelda, of the still-untidy room (Grimelda the Very Messy Witch, 2016), is back, this time trying to win the prize at the pet show with her cat, Wizzlewarts.

But is he spooktacular enough to win? Grimelda has her doubts, especially after Hildegard rides by on Blaze, her fire-breathing dragon. A spell might do the trick, but as before, her spell book is lost in the mess. What to do? Well, find a better pet, of course. But those turn out to be in short supply at the general store, and the monster eel she finds in the swamp may be a bit too spooktacular. But back at home, Wizzlewarts can’t be counted out yet. “He’d found her spell book! And what’s more, / he’d flipped to page three hundred four— / The Perfect Spell to Make a Cat / Spooktacular in Seconds Flat!” At the pet show, the spell, smudged with eye-scream fudge, doesn’t turn out quite as Grimelda had intended, but she and Wizzlewarts pull together for the ultimate win…and a new pet of a different sort. Ross’ digital illustrations are filled with fascinating details that will have readers poring over the pages, though diversity is in short supply (Grimelda and Hildegard both appear to be white). Murray never addresses Grimelda’s original lack of faith in Wizzlewarts, who surely must feel inadequate and unloved.

Readers may stage their own pet shows, but here’s hoping they are more affirmative of their own pets than Grimelda is. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-226449-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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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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