Telling one story well is enough of a challenge, but this book perfectly balances two stories and the characters within...

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GARCIA & COLETTE GO EXPLORING

A rabbit and a fox who are close friends decide to take trips to space and under the sea, separated by distance but in perfect harmony.

Clearly best buds, Garcia and Colette nevertheless can’t agree on a shared trip destination, so each of them goes off to build a craft: one to explore the stars, another to dive under the sea. Using a giant stack of hodgepodge items including musical instruments, Garcia and Colette construct a rocket and a submarine, respectively, pack nearly but not quite identical stacks of peanut-butter sandwiches, and go on parallel explorations. What follows is a predictable but expertly constructed dual journey, with the watery depths and dark space informing each other in clever and kinetic ways. The two distant locations bleed into each other across the gutter or serve as neighboring counterpoints when smaller panels alternate between the two. Space and the ocean depths are, of course, beautiful, quiet, and, eventually, lonely. The two friends can’t wait to meet back and, together, take a new adventure in a vast desert: “There was sand beneath their feet. There were stars above their heads. There was darkness and quiet all around them.” Illustrations are dynamic and well-juxtaposed throughout, and the full-speed-ahead enthusiasm of Garcia and Colette is infectious.

Telling one story well is enough of a challenge, but this book perfectly balances two stories and the characters within them, adding up to more than the sum . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-17675-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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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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