Readers will certainly agree that alligators do not belong at school, and parents, if they are far enough removed from them,...



From the Magnolia Says Don't! series

Magnolia learns the hard way that an alligator is not a great item to bring for show and tell, and she wants readers to learn from her experience.

While Magnolia’s struggles with the alligator and his rambunctious behavior will be funny to kids, it’s adults who have dealt with similar behavior from their own young charges who will chuckle loudest. First, the alligator makes Magnolia laugh during spelling by showing her the funny picture he’s drawn. Her name goes on the board: last in line at lunch. She takes his crayons away. Then his origami paper airplane goes astray during art. The check next to Magnolia’s name means no recess. She takes away the paper. Some gum distracts him from eating a classmate...but makes a mess nonetheless—two more checks and an underline mean a trip to the principal’s office. Magnolia may be down, but she’s not out: she has a trick up her sleeve that just might turn her day around. Or not. Parsley’s digital illustrations are a riot, Magnolia’s smug expression gradually changing to chagrin, anger, and outright terror as the alligator continues his shenanigans, none worse than what a toddler dishes out on a regular basis.

Readers will certainly agree that alligators do not belong at school, and parents, if they are far enough removed from them, will fondly remember the days of their own children’s mischief. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-37657-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2015

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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


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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