A good choice for telling, a poor one for showing.




Unbridled greed really puts the squeeze on the rotund trickster in this tale from Ghana.

The telling is a lively one, the illustrations dismal failures. As Anansi goes “walking, walking, walking. Woo!” he catches the scent of yams cooking in one village, chicken and rice in another, beans in a third, and other feasts. “Oh—I’m gon eat good today. Yes. Oh—I’m gon to eat good.” At each stop he ties a string around his waist and tells the villagers to pull when the food’s ready. Unfortunately, when all the strings are pulled at once, not only is Anansi unable to move in any direction, his waist gets squeezed down to the thinness that all spiders still exhibit. Arrington sandwiches her tale between wordy explanations and doesn’t offer a source note. But she uses repetition and cadence to lend her version a robust, distinctly oral character…and if the “Anansi Approved Recipes” for candied yams with marshmallows and for baked beans with barbecue sauce at the end aren’t exactly West African in origin, they’re still yummy. Allin, on the other hand, portrays Anansi with brown fur and anthropomorphic features, including a head and a neck. Moreover, perplexingly, all the villagers are cast as unclothed African animals living in stereotypical grass huts.

A good choice for telling, a poor one for showing. (Picture book/folk tale. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4556-2216-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pelican

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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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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Superficially appealing; much less so upon closer examination.


When Rabbit’s unbridled mania for collecting carrots leaves him unable to sleep in his cozy burrow, other animals offer to put him up.

But to Rabbit, their homes are just more storage space for carrots: Tortoise’s overstuffed shell cracks open; the branch breaks beneath Bird’s nest; Squirrel’s tree trunk topples over; and Beaver’s bulging lodge collapses at the first rainstorm. Impelled by guilt and the epiphany that “carrots weren’t for collecting—they were for SHARING!” Rabbit invites his newly homeless friends into his intact, and inexplicably now-roomy, burrow for a crunchy banquet. This could be read (with some effort) as a lightly humorous fable with a happy ending, and Hudson’s depictions of carrot-strewn natural scenes, of Rabbit as a plush bunny, and of the other animals as, at worst, mildly out of sorts support that take. Still, the insistent way Rabbit keeps forcing himself on his friends and the magnitude of the successive disasters may leave even less-reflective readers disturbed. Moreover, as Rabbit is never seen actually eating a carrot, his stockpiling looks a lot like the sort of compulsive hoarding that, in humans, is regarded as a mental illness.

Superficially appealing; much less so upon closer examination. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62370-638-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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