A quiet tale of magic and love with delicate, realistic illustrations.

READ REVIEW

THUNDER HORSE

A child raises a magical horse and learns about the enduring power of love in this picture book.

The narrator is given a tiny white horse, “perfect in every way,” by Aunt Aldora, who wears a bright shawl and bangles, in contrast to the child’s more staidly attired parents. She says that the tiny horse came from a “hidden Greek Island” and cautions the child that, because the horse is magical and “you cannot own magic,” one day, the horse will leave. The child cares for the horse, feeding it and walking it on a leash. After the child hears a teacher read the story of Pegasus in class, the youngster decides that Pegasus is the perfect name for the horse, who has been growing and growing and now sports magnificent wings. Bunting’s assured text is quiet, subtle, and accepting, and Nolan’s delicate and emotive illustrations (all full-color, double-page spreads) add their own peacefulness. They have the look of pastels on colored paper, giving the images a textured, solid feel that is nevertheless dreamlike. The youngster and Pegasus form a strong and loving bond, made poignant by its impermanence. The final pages of the story switch from past tense to the present, allowing readers to understand that the happy, satisfying conclusion will continue. The narrator has long, brown hair and pale skin, as do both parents and Aunt Aldora. 

A quiet tale of magic and love with delicate, realistic illustrations. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-443-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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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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