The metaphor will be transparent even to younger readers, and Hattie’s unwavering love for her foster clan casts a warm glow...



From the Hattie Peck series

Hattie the egg-barren hen has lovingly raised a large and diverse brood, and now it’s time to let her adopted offspring “fly the nest.”

Having gathered abandoned eggs from all over the world, as described in Hattie Peck (2016), the chickless mother hen glories in taking her dozens of babies—who belong to every egg-laying species from flamingo to toucan, crocodile to turtle, platypus to echidna—on outings, giving them baths, knitting them all treats for Christmas, and celebrating their common birthday. But when the time comes, with regret but no reluctance, she leads them across deep waters, over city rooftops, down into caves, and in general back where she first found each one. Back home she goes, to sit wistfully alone and knit (holding the needles incorrectly, as is oddly common in picture books)…until that birthday rolls around again and brings a grand, climactic “SURPRISE!” Aside from their forms, the hatchlings are not individualized, so the focus remains steady on the adoptive parent here. Still, Levey’s colorful assemblages of cute, active baby animals crowding around their teal-feathered caregiver add large measures of humor and joie de vivre.

The metaphor will be transparent even to younger readers, and Hattie’s unwavering love for her foster clan casts a warm glow over the entire episode. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-1390-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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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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