A raw, startling portrait of migration.

MIGRANTS

Bear witness to a long, arduous journey across forests and seas for those searching for renewed hope.

The travelers—a group of anthropomorphic animals carrying just the clothes on their backs and what little else possible—stand out against the black background. There’s the unyielding deep green of the ground and the stark trees that line the path ahead. But wait, here comes Death with lively flowers pressed upon its black robe and a giant blue ibis at its side. Together the travelers set off, sharing food and company and camping when fatigue sets in. Once at the coast, everyone climbs aboard the boat, a modest wooden scrap against the turbulent sea. The sea proves itself cruel, obliterating the travelers’ vessel, and those that can swim to shore do so. Not everyone makes it. More fall behind the further the journey goes on, and all along, Death lingers nearby, accompanied by its ibis. It’s a lengthy march disrupted with loss and grief until the migrants finally arrive at a landscape of blossoming shrubbery. Originally released in Mexico and imported via New Zealand, Peruvian creator Watanabe’s depiction of migration and its often harrowing trials shares no words but plenty of images that ask readers to consider. It’s a rare feat: a wordless picture book in which the absence of text intensifies the stories it tells. With its stark dearth of color, seen only where necessary, and evocative imagery, the artist’s pictures make the migrant’s journey—distinct yet everyday—feel palpable. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 96.4% of actual size.)

A raw, startling portrait of migration. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77657-313-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Gecko Press

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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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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