Raccoons, their appetites, and their washing habits should be a winning combination, but this story is unlikely to satisfy

MUDDY

THE RACCOON WHO STOLE DISHES

A community of raccoons is happy catching their own food, but one dreams of something more gourmet.

“Muddy was ordinary…but he couldn’t stand ordinary raccoon food.” He and his family live by a river, but “he refused to eat frogs, slugs,” and other wild-caught delicacies, preferring “garbage—any leftover food he could find—and he liked to eat it on plates.” He and his community used to live in a city but were driven out into the wilderness by the humans they disturbed. Muddy refuses to give up, though, sneaking across the river to steal food from the new waterside restaurant and bring plates back to his home. The other raccoons, afraid of getting into trouble, wash the plates (as raccoons are wont to do) and take them back, scaring off the diners—and leaving the raccoons with the abandoned feast. Raccoons could be charming protagonists. Unfortunately these, randomly sporting bow ties and scarves, are crudely drawn and inconsistently anthropomorphized, failing to tap into the potential charm of these strange creatures. Despite a strong beginning, the storytelling lacks any bolstering structure, and as a read-aloud it falls flat, with clunky transitions and irrelevant, tongue-tangling details.

Raccoons, their appetites, and their washing habits should be a winning combination, but this story is unlikely to satisfy . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4337-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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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