Not a tall tale at all but a captivating bit of history.

READ REVIEW

ZERAFFA GIRAFFA

Stories of animal feats that sound as if they can’t possibly be true are always intriguing, and this tale is one that bears repeating.

While several children’s books have been written about the giraffe who sailed across the Mediterranean from Egypt and then walked from Marseilles to Paris, arriving in 1827 after three years, this version is written for a slightly younger age group than the others. In spite of limited details, the telling is lively and largely accords with the known facts. The pasha of Egypt charges his servant Atir, a young man who accompanies the giraffe and lives with her until her death in 1845, with delivering the unusual living present to King Charles X of France. The giraffe inspires all sorts of fashions, biscuits, topiary hedges and hairdos. The author’s note provides background and notes that the building, La Rotunde, constructed to house Zeraffa (in other accounts often called Belle) still exists. Unfortunately, there are no source notes. Whether Louise Marie Thérèse, the king’s granddaughter, really crept out each night to stand with Zeraffa and Atir, staring toward the African continent, is probably a matter of poetic license. The detail-filled paintings, bursting with boats on the Nile, French crowds and the giraffe’s accessories, will draw all eyes during group or individual readings.

Not a tall tale at all but a captivating bit of history. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-84780-344-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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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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