Betsy R. Rosenthal’s An Ambush of Tigers, illustrated by Jago (2015), is a much better—and more memorable—choice than this...




Danylyshyn and Lomp use rhyming verse, wordplay, and the mnemonic device of associating a word with a silly, memorable picture to introduce and help children remember the names of groups of animals.

“A group of rhinos is called a CRASH, / which happens sometimes in a flash. / Honking their horns, always hurrying to arrive, / with such poor eyesight they really shouldn’t drive.” A four-way intersection on the African savanna finds 10 dismayed or angry rhinos stranded, all involved in some sort of traffic altercation and most wearing glasses. The run of salmon all sport numbered race bibs on their bellies, the band of gorillas plays to an adoring crowd, and the committee of vultures surrounds a boardroom table, wearing ties and trying to decide between dinner and snacks. Not all of Lomp’s digital illustrations are as memorable as these, though. The pride of lions is pictured in a beauty salon, the gaze of raccoons shows a group of raccoons robbing the pies from a windowsill, their eyes blank and staring, and the zeal of zebras are depicted as spies. The verse is also weak in both rhythm and rhyme, many times not scanning well when read aloud.

Betsy R. Rosenthal’s An Ambush of Tigers, illustrated by Jago (2015), is a much better—and more memorable—choice than this effort. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3150-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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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


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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