Diverting

READ REVIEW

LENNY THE LOBSTER CAN'T STAY FOR DINNER

...OR CAN HE? YOU DECIDE!

Beyond just breaking the fourth wall, this clever account of a lobster at a dinner party directly involves readers in the choice of outcome.

Well-mannered lobster Lenny is “delighted” to receive an invitation to a fancy dinner party, and he does every proper thing: dons his hat, grooms his claws and mustache, and arrives with gifts and flowers. The other guests are just as happy to see him, but alert readers will understand what is meant by “In fact, they seemed a little too excited….” The truth is revealed via several visual clues, including one party guest actually drooling and a chef with a tray full of claw crackers; one young girl sits with her back to the door, arms folded, and a grumpy look on her face. Lenny appears clueless that people would be so rude as to eat him. Then, it’s time for readers to choose: Should Lenny stay? Madcap adventures ensue no matter the choice, and the potentially unhappy conclusion—with Lenny on a plate—is lightened, as readers are directed to go back to the beginning and start again. In both scenarios, “little Imogen,” the grumpy girl from the beginning, comes to the rescue. The limited palette of lobster reds and ocean blues outlined in scratchy black suits the wry, understated tone, though child readers familiar with the crustacean will note that bright-red Lenny has been cooked from the very beginning.

Diverting . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7148-7864-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Phaidon

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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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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