Plodding, endearing, and humorous—not unlike a baby moose.

THE MOOSE OF EWENKI

A surprising bond between an elder hunter and a moose sheds light on the lives of an Inner Mongolian people.

In the “vast forests” of mountainous northern China, the Indigenous Reindeer Ewenki people hunt, raise reindeer, and live in nomadic camps. When an old hunter named Gree Shek accidentally makes an orphan of a baby moose, guilt prompts the tan-skinned elder to bring the motherless calf back to his tent for the night. It’s not long before Xiao Han (“Little Moose”) is adopted into the camp, where he quickly grows to the size of a reindeer, joins the herd, and wreaks playful havoc on his adoptive home. Young readers will delight in the lumbering mammal’s antics; for instance, the ever growing Xiao Han insists on spending each night in Gree Shek’s tent—until the clumsy moose knocks it down entirely. Despite the loving bond, the aging hunter realizes that Xiao Han will never be quite suited for life among humans, and the lighthearted tale takes an emotional turn when the steadily declining hunter sends Xiao Han back into the wild. Blackcrane’s tale culminates in a rather grim scene: upon checking on Gree Shek’s campsite, fellow hunters discover his corpse (illustrated reverently by Jiu Er). Though the plot meanders, the tale is valuable for its thoughtful portrayal of the Reindeer Ewenki’s traditional ways. The illustrations’ delicate lines and shading meticulously model the characters, and there’s a solemnity to them even at their most slapstick.

Plodding, endearing, and humorous—not unlike a baby moose. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77164-538-6

Page Count: 68

Publisher: Aldana Libros/Greystone Kids

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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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