Much better books about not being able to sleep abound—skip these bedtime blues.

PETE THE CAT AND THE BEDTIME BLUES

From the Pete the Cat series

After a fun-filled day at the beach, Pete and his friends decide to continue the fun with a sleepover, but if they can’t sleep, will it still be fun?

Gus, Alligator, and Toad join Pete at his house, and it’s all fun and games until the lights go out for bedtime. “Clap! Clap! Clap!” Toad doesn’t want to sleep—he wants to clap. Another round of good nights and the lights go out. “Rat-a-tat-tat!” Gus wants to jam. And then, “Munch! Munch! Munch!” Alligator is hungry. What can Pete do to get a little shut-eye? Maybe his favorite bedtime book holds the answer. As in the rest of the tales featuring Pete, the characters are heavy-lidded and expressionless. Even a day surfing at the beach and a sleepover with friends can’t elicit smiles from this group. And Pete, though readers assume that he’s increasingly frustrated with his noisy friends, never bats an eyelash or expresses his feelings. Words like “gang,” “groovy,” “far-out,” and “cool cat” try too hard to appeal to Beat Generation wannabes.

Much better books about not being able to sleep abound—skip these bedtime blues. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-230430-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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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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