The lesson about sharing and generosity is elegantly wrapped around lovely language.

THE GREEN UMBRELLA

A pink elephant emotionally attached to an umbrella finds the same object has many uses for a series of animals he encounters one rainy day.

It begins when a hedgehog tells the elephant, "Excuse me, I believe you have my boat." The hedgehog's story, about an eventful journey at sea in the umbrella is lovely, but the elephant tells the hedgehog, "I'm sure you’re mistaken." The scene repeats with a cat who believes the umbrella is a tent for camping, a bear that insists it’s a flying machine, and others. Politely but firmly, the elephant insists that the umbrella belongs to him, even sharing his own unorthodox uses of the tool, but he is polite enough to invite the animals to stay out of the rain and under the umbrella. The story ends, of course, in friendship and a picnic as well as the understanding that imagination can infuse the most mundane things with deep meaning. Illustrated in spreads that alternate the rainy-day narrative in vignettes with full-bleed spreads that allow the flight-of-fancy retellings to render a deeper mood, the animals’ stories are delightfully descriptive: there's "the salty spray of whales" and “Northern Lights [that] glimmer above rolling hills." While the elephant stands firm in holding onto that umbrella, each of the animals is allowed a brief moment in the spotlight to tell a whimsical tale.

The lesson about sharing and generosity is elegantly wrapped around lovely language. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4218-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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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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