A stunningly produced version of an odd but oft-told story.

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THE LONG TALL JOURNEY

In 1825, the Ottoman viceroy of Egypt gave a giraffe to Charles X of France.

The two-year journey of a giraffe from Sudan to Paris in the first quarter of the 19th century is exotic enough to have been told a number of times. This version is told from the deeply anthropomorphized point of view of the giraffe herself. The giraffe is captured by men with ropes and spears, carried on camelback and loaded onto a ship, where she is cared for by two boys. Across the Mediterranean, the party walks from Marseilles to Paris, and the giraffe becomes something of a media star. All of this is illustrated in lush, full-page, digitally produced art that resembles oil painting and that makes the most of the many varied landscapes the giraffe travels through. The giraffe opens herself to all these unknown experiences in her narration, finding joy in how people perceive her as elegant and graceful. Adult and older child readers may alternatively contemplate the horror of being forcibly taken from one’s homeland or the gift of making the best of where one finds oneself; younger children may take delight in the scenes of the giraffe being carried on the back of a camel and eating the flowers from a woman’s hair.

A stunningly produced version of an odd but oft-told story. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-56846-230-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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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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