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The usual morals about the consequences of treachery or the inflexibility of innate nature don’t apply here in this...

It’s all about the squabble in this odd variation on a fable that usually, to clearer purpose, pairs a suicidal scorpion with either a hard-shelled turtle or a vulnerable frog.

The narration begins by strenuously emphasizing the stupidity of both creatures—the crocodile’s “brain was very small,” the scorpion’s “stinger was very sharp, but his mind was not,” and then again: “They both had brains no bigger than a pebble.” The tale puts the scorpion upon the crocodile’s back for a river crossing after a mutual promise to refrain from stinging or biting. The scorpion can’t restrain himself, though. This leads to a splashy battle and mutual recriminations that stretch on for four spreads, after which both sink to the bottom, where, instead of dying, “you can hear them arguing still…that is if someone has not settled the argument for them.” With the color contrast among the green croc, the purple scorpion and the blue river dialed up to the max, the spiky cut- and torn-paper collage illustrations practically glow—but the two animals seem to lose track of each other and just float separately through the last several spreads. The authors provide no source note to the original tale.

The usual morals about the consequences of treachery or the inflexibility of innate nature don’t apply here in this uncharacteristically unsatisfying retelling. (Picture book/folk tale. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59643-494-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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From the Elephant & Piggie series

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further.

A young Latine boy finally gets to rescue the dog of his dreams, but training can be a challenge in two languages.

Like many children, José has been dreaming of having a pet of his own, specifically un perro, a dog. Like any good owner, José promptly begins training his new canine companion but soon realizes his rescue mutt, Feliz, knows only words in English. This is a problem because in José’s home everyone speaks both Spanish and English. José and Feliz must rise to the challenge; fortunately, treats and snuggles are great motivators. The narrative uses Spanish words and phrases throughout (“perros blancos,” “¡Yo quiero este!” “¡Sientate!”), usually with English context clues for understanding. This is complex vocabulary for an early reader, and the shifting in phonics from English to Spanish will be challenging for true beginners; the book is best suited for intermediate to advanced readers in dual-language classrooms or homes. Much like Feliz, however, it is sure to find a loving (and bilingual) home. Cheerful illustrations complement the text, helping readers make sense of the narrative. While José and his mother are darker-skinned, his father and sister are lighter-skinned. (This review has been updated for accuracy.)

Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further. (glossary of Spanish-English words) (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-52116-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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