In between giggles, children will find much to think about. (Picture book. 5-9)

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JOHN JENSEN FEELS DIFFERENT

John Jensen lives a perfectly ordinary, one would even say dull, life. So why does he "feel different"?

From the morning, when he munches on extra-fiber super-crunch cereal and brushes his teeth, to "when he's sitting in the tax office working on cases" to his evening commute back home, he feels different. Maybe it's the tail? Children will be all over the disconnect between text and images, because this Caspar Milquetoast of a protagonist is a crocodile living in a world (mostly) otherwise populated by humans. Even funnier than this is the obvious lack of interest everyone around him shows him, despite his intense self-consciousness (the man sitting next to him on the bus is actually sleeping). Nevertheless, John Jensen decides to try hiding his tail under his shirts to avoid notice. But of course, "[w]ith your tail around your middle, you feel clumsy and it's easy to lose your balance," causing him to fall and attracting a lot of attention. The bruised saurian takes himself to the emergency room, where he is treated by… an elephant. A quick pep talk from Dr. Field makes John Jensen realize all the advantages of having a tail, and he celebrates Norway's Constitution Day happily, just one among the throng. Kove's childlike cartoons and their muted palette suit Hovland's daffy fable to a T, matching its deadpan tone with bland innocence.

In between giggles, children will find much to think about. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5399-8

Page Count: 33

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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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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