Doesn’t rise to the top of the school-and-friendship barrel.



From the Peachy and Keen series , Vol. 1

It’s the first day of school, and cat Peachy is finally old enough to join Happy Tails School’s student newspaper.

When Peachy finds out the paper has been shuttered, she’s devastated. How will she fulfill her dream of being a star reporter? Principal Trunx, an elephant (obviously), tells her no one reads the paper anymore; they’re focused on their phones (Chimpstagram is quite popular). Peachy comes up with a brilliant idea: she’ll start a digital magazine her classmates can read on their (bizarrely named) PinePhones. However, there’s a caveat—school rules require all clubs to have at least six members. So far, it’s just Peachy and her best friend fur-ever, Keen, a perpetually hungry pup who’s fond of wearing costumes to school, so the two set out to recruit members for Purrfect9. To Peachy’s dismay, Keen makes false promises—free gold and red-carpet access—to gain members, but fortunately, their recruits stick around. It looks like Peachy’s dream is coming true, but when Keen publishes a cartoon that perfectionist Peachy didn’t approve, their friendship—and Purrfect9’s fate—is put to the test. Puns, irony, and wordplay make up much of the third-person narration; the full-color spot art is Saturday morning cartoon–cute. The plot and concepts feel very middle school, at odds with the low page count and young look.

Doesn’t rise to the top of the school-and-friendship barrel. (Fiction. 5-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-11043-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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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


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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