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THE WORLD ACCORDING TO MUSK OX

Great art and (some) fabulous humor, but the geographical implications requiring correction make this a difficult choice.

The wisecracking musk ox and buttoned-up zebra take off to travel the world.

These pals (last seen in Musk Ox Counts, 2013) have a half-fond, half-irritated, very entertaining relationship. When the zebra finds their globe shattered and his companion utterly ignorant of geography, he whisks them off on a tour of continents, lecturing all the way—while the musk ox quips. Some of the humor is genuinely rib-tickling, in particular their banter. Also funny are the musk ox bestride a camel, penguins toppling hilariously in Antarctic wind gusts, and various “Hysterical Marker” signs with attitude (“In 1911, the South Pole was discovered by 5 men and 16 dogs. Guess who took the credit?”). Other jokes fall flat, such as the musk ox’s pickup-artist lines: Zebra introduces some animals “called gnus,” and musk ox says, “Well, I just want to call them. Hello, ladies! Is it hot out here or is it me?” Jazzy information (Antarctica’s a desert!) tussles with artistic license (Bactrian camels erroneously show up in Africa). The portrayals of the continents employ a lazy reductiveness: Africa’s all nature and animals, while Europe has the Eiffel Tower—and humans. Target-age readers are too young to unpack this problematic implication. Myers’ paintings are visually bold, truly funny and richly colored.

Great art and (some) fabulous humor, but the geographical implications requiring correction make this a difficult choice. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59643-799-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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WAITING IS NOT EASY!

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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