RITA THE LIZARD

Bursting with life in its clever visuals and antic sense of play, an abundance of activity is on offer in this story about a fun-loving red lizard.

Rita, the titular flat, red lizard, is first seen lounging on the beach as a paper sailboat passes by. "Rita thinks she is a chameleon just like her Uncle William," but her bright, unchanging color and strange habits (like snoring while she sleeps on a zebra) don't exactly make her blend into the background. The identity crisis is solved with the help of her animal friends, and the whole affair concludes with a festive dance party as Rita celebrates who she really is. The message is carefully inserted into dense layers of gorgeously textured art and buoyed by plenty of surrealist touches. A giraffe wears boots; a duck flies by, calmly embedded within a hot-air balloon; and a photo on a wall suddenly sprouts a long, stringy mustache. The app's animations and extra features are beautifully presented and fit right in with the rest of the story. If that weren't enough, each page has an optional countdown that tells readers exactly how many interactive goodies are available. Activate all of them and an award notification pops up that, remarkably, doesn't break up the flow of the story. Rita's realization that being a lizard is great is carried effortlessly by all the terrific visual asides along the way. (iPad storybook app. 3-10)

 

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Irene Blasco Grau

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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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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