This menagerie offers picture-book lovers of all ages a glimpse into each creator’s style, personality and brand of humor.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE ANIMAL?

Cause-related anthologies are challenging to do well, but this one (benefiting the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art) succeeds admirably—on multiple levels.

The investment of 13 popular illustrators allows Carle to present a portable gallery of animals and a marvelous array of approaches, media and layouts that even the youngest viewers can access. The only thing missing is ethnic diversity among the artists. Accompanying the assemblage are brief poems, captions or anecdotes conveying why these are favored choices. Peter Sís relays the Czech ritual of watching the Christmas Eve carp swimming in the bathtub and the tearful parade of neighborhood children releasing their dinners into the river; his flying fish transports three feline kings bearing gifts. Chris Raschka’s hand-lettered, existential musings are paired with his portrait of a lowly snail building a dazzling shell. Older children with a book background will have fun recognizing the work of familiar illustrators: Lane Smith’s textured, green pachyderm; Lucy Cousins’ heavily spotted leopard rendered in searing yellow; Erin Stead’s understated penguins. They will also enjoy Bad Kitty’s antics as he jealously breaks into Nick Bruel’s octopus story and the duo’s “shameless flattery” of the volume’s compiler. The book opens with Carle’s collaged string-bean–loving cat and concludes with photographs of his museum.

This menagerie offers picture-book lovers of all ages a glimpse into each creator’s style, personality and brand of humor. (biographies, photographs, websites) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9641-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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Hee haw.

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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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