This is a running gag that, sadly, just keeps running.

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NO PARTY POOPERS!

This picture book begins by listing every stereotype about every type of animal and ends by tearing them all down.

The color-coded dialogue starts with the words “Hey, let’s have a party!” but the panda who’s hosting rejects every guest its brown-bear co-host wants to invite. “The Lions?” the brown bear suggests in black type. “Always take more than their fair share,” the panda scoffs in blue. “The Peacocks?” ventures the brown bear. “Show-offs!” This pattern leads up to the only possible moral. Having given up on hosting a party, the two end up at a different party that surprises the panda: “Why didn’t you tell me our neighbors were so much fun? They weren’t at all like I expected!” It’s touching, but there are two problems. One is that the dialogue attribution is not always clear; the other is that the author tries to speak up for just about every species on Earth. A single page halfway through the book features beavers, hippos, kangaroos, and shrews. This would seem to be an illustrator’s dream job, but the animals look strangely generic. Far too many of them have pear-shaped bodies, as though they were all traced from the same template. And the pages feel a little too cramped. There are just too many monkeys in this barrel of monkeys.

This is a running gag that, sadly, just keeps running. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0988-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bee

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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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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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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