Youngsters will laugh out loud while they are unconsciously, painlessly learning.




Homonym pairs describe the action as an array of unlikely animals play sports with varying degrees of success and hilarity.

The titular BAT wields his BAT for a home run, causing the president to announce a new law declaring that all animals have the RIGHT to play sports. “That’s RIGHT!” he says. Double-page spreads depict a variety of animals taking part in all kinds of sporting events, employing one or more sets of true homonyms, which stand out in bold uppercase letters. (A note to readers orients them on the nuanced differences among homonyms, homophones, and homographs.) Some examples involve pairings with straightforward meanings that are easily understood by young readers. Rabbits TRAIN for races by racing a TRAIN. In other examples, details in the illustrations highlight possibly unfamiliar meanings. The dolphin can STAND on a wave as it faces the judges’ STAND, where there is a sign over a diverse group of people in a structure helpfully labeled “Judges.” Barretta is a master of wordplay (Dear Deer, 2007; Zoola Palooza, 2011), and his hugely expressive, brightly hued watercolor cartoons certainly depict both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, all with endless humor and charm. That poor water buffalo is totally embarrassed when his horn is caught in the basketball net, and the monkey looks absolutely gleeful when he deliberately throws the football in the wrong direction.

Youngsters will laugh out loud while they are unconsciously, painlessly learning. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9946-1

Page Count: 45

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 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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Superficially appealing; much less so upon closer examination.


When Rabbit’s unbridled mania for collecting carrots leaves him unable to sleep in his cozy burrow, other animals offer to put him up.

But to Rabbit, their homes are just more storage space for carrots: Tortoise’s overstuffed shell cracks open; the branch breaks beneath Bird’s nest; Squirrel’s tree trunk topples over; and Beaver’s bulging lodge collapses at the first rainstorm. Impelled by guilt and the epiphany that “carrots weren’t for collecting—they were for SHARING!” Rabbit invites his newly homeless friends into his intact, and inexplicably now-roomy, burrow for a crunchy banquet. This could be read (with some effort) as a lightly humorous fable with a happy ending, and Hudson’s depictions of carrot-strewn natural scenes, of Rabbit as a plush bunny, and of the other animals as, at worst, mildly out of sorts support that take. Still, the insistent way Rabbit keeps forcing himself on his friends and the magnitude of the successive disasters may leave even less-reflective readers disturbed. Moreover, as Rabbit is never seen actually eating a carrot, his stockpiling looks a lot like the sort of compulsive hoarding that, in humans, is regarded as a mental illness.

Superficially appealing; much less so upon closer examination. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62370-638-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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