A feast of food, heart’s desire, and rising to the occasion with brio and dash.

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PHILIPPE THE BLACK SHEEP

A salt marsh lamb living in the shadow of Mont Saint-Michel rebels against his destiny.

In the pastures across the bay from the iconic abbey, the French raise salt marsh lambs, the grass infusing the lambs’ meat with its succulent saltiness. But Phillipe—a black sheep, a bohemian artist—has no intention of following the flock to the ax. In Dupont’s finger-snapping couplets, this story tells of Phillipe’s escape, his landing on Mont Saint-Michel, and his discovery of bistro cooking. So mesmerized is Phillipe by the island he agrees to become kitchen drudge for the bistro’s notorious chef, Louis the Cruel. Although the food is great, the bistro is doing poorly because Louis eats all the food before the patrons arrive for lunch. Until he collapses one day under the weight of his gluttony and Phillipe wields the pans to strut his culinary flair. Who knew? After Louis recuperates, Philippe returns to the mainland to open his own bistro and get back to painting. Dupont’s rhymes shine: “That lamb has a way / of presenting a plate! / Who knows what it was, / what it was that we ate?” Shire’s artwork is set on fields of pastel color, wobbly, William Steig–esque lines presenting the silliness in vignettes surrounded by text.

A feast of food, heart’s desire, and rising to the occasion with brio and dash. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-916754-45-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Filsinger & Co.

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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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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