This gentle and moving portrait of animal rehabilitation stands out for its unusual, animal-centric point of view.



A baby sea otter tells the story of his rehabilitation after a storm separates him from his mother.

Lifted and examined in a place of strange smells, the little otter gradually relaxes into the care of humans. After he being fed from a bottle, he is placed in a gently moving pool that rocks him to sleep. Within several days, he meets his new mother. This adoptive mom teaches the baby the skills he will need in order to feed himself. Ending with his ocean release, readers leave him tethered in seaweed and fast asleep among a group of other otters. Backmatter includes a list of Web and print resources, as well as a final note that serves to fill in the human side of the baby otter’s rescue. This fascinating note describes the Monteray Bay Aquarium’s stranded–sea otter program and how it has changed and improved based on the research scientists have done on the animals already released. As does the text, Van Zyle’s acrylics keep the point of view with the baby otter. He is large and central to the illustrations, while the humans are reduced to either onlookers or purple latex gloves. It's a shame the science described in the author's note was not more incorporated into the text, but that is a small quibble.

This gentle and moving portrait of animal rehabilitation stands out for its unusual, animal-centric point of view. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8027-9808-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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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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