Nicely connecting the child to the natural world, this would be a useful opener for a unit about animals as well as a title...

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ANIMAL TEACHERS

Just like human children, animal babies from chicks to bear cubs learn lessons from adults around them.

Spread by spread, the conversational text of this instructive title presents skills a dozen different young animals have to learn and connects them to readers. Two paragraphs describe the learning task: finding what’s good to eat; learning to swim, defend, feed and shelter oneself; learning to recognize and make particular sounds. Questions to readers follow. “Who sings to you?” the narrator asks after presenting information on penguins. Some shared skills may surprise. It takes time for elephants to learn to use their trunks for drinking, just as it does for children to learn to drink from a water fountain. Great apes learn tool use: Chimps crack nuts with stones, and orangutans gather leafy branches for umbrellas. Hudson’s realistic pen-and-watercolor illustrations show animal parents and their child or children in their natural environments. (The leafy endpapers are less relevant, showing an unlikely collection of unmentioned though recognizable birds and a few animals, some placed so far toward the edges they will likely be hidden by the cover flaps.) A final spread offers two to four additional interesting facts about each of the creatures described.

Nicely connecting the child to the natural world, this would be a useful opener for a unit about animals as well as a title to share with young animal lovers. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-60905-391-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Apple

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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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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