These pages beckon readers to return again and again to pore over the details.

THE LAST KING OF ANGKOR WAT

Four boastful Asian animals learn a lesson in humility.

Cambodia’s Angkor Wat was once known as the “City of Temples.” Gibbon, Tiger, Water Buffalo and Gecko laze near a temple ruin together. Each posits that he would be a superior king; this speculation turns into a challenge and, ultimately, a race to the top of their mountain. Tiger gets off to a quick start, neatly avoiding a menacing snake but ignoring a beautiful crane with a broken wing. Not far behind, Gibbon also encounters the snake, now tangled in branches, and helps to free him. When Gibbon tires, he hitches a ride on a slow-moving pangolin. When Water Buffalo comes upon the snake, he’s filled with fear and decides to take the long way up, around the big swamp. Gecko has no trouble zigzagging past the serpent. When the four animals reach the top, they’re surprised to find Elephant waiting for them. He recounts the exploits of each; none has the qualities that make a king, he says, citing their actions during the race. The quartet leaves together, pondering all that Elephant has said. This simple morality tale is lifted to loveliness by Base’s gorgeous digital illustrations, majestic and richly colored, filled with characteristic detail and intricately bordered.

These pages beckon readers to return again and again to pore over the details.   (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1354-5

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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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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