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Still, whale lovers will breach with happiness over this rich, artful mix of fact and frolic.

With playful observations and comparisons, Desmond presents a fount of information about “the largest living creature on our planet.”

Its “heart is as big as a small car,” its average weight of 160 tons is “about the same as a heap of 55 hippopotami,” and because the krill it eats “are bright orange, so too is a whale’s poo.” Desmond doesn’t depict the poo but she does show the krill, along with a pile of hippos, the 50 ethnically diverse people who could fit into a blue whale’s mouth, 50 jugs of milk that represent a whale calf’s daily consumption, and other vivid infographics. These illustrations are all done in a loose cartoon style with frequent views of huge, gracefully bowed cetaceans filtered through the imagination of a capering Caucasian lad capped with a red crown and clutching this very volume. The slightly elliptical narrative leaves actual young readers who might be hazy on what “frequency of their sound” means or just why capturing whales for scientific study is “unethical” to wonder. That opening reference to “largest living creature” may cause confusion too, as blue whales are the biggest animals but not the planet’s biggest living organisms (an honor that belongs to a colossal fungus).

Still, whale lovers will breach with happiness over this rich, artful mix of fact and frolic. (map) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59270-165-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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From the Elephant & Piggie series

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further.

A young Latine boy finally gets to rescue the dog of his dreams, but training can be a challenge in two languages.

Like many children, José has been dreaming of having a pet of his own, specifically un perro, a dog. Like any good owner, José promptly begins training his new canine companion but soon realizes his rescue mutt, Feliz, knows only words in English. This is a problem because in José’s home everyone speaks both Spanish and English. José and Feliz must rise to the challenge; fortunately, treats and snuggles are great motivators. The narrative uses Spanish words and phrases throughout (“perros blancos,” “¡Yo quiero este!” “¡Sientate!”), usually with English context clues for understanding. This is complex vocabulary for an early reader, and the shifting in phonics from English to Spanish will be challenging for true beginners; the book is best suited for intermediate to advanced readers in dual-language classrooms or homes. Much like Feliz, however, it is sure to find a loving (and bilingual) home. Cheerful illustrations complement the text, helping readers make sense of the narrative. While José and his mother are darker-skinned, his father and sister are lighter-skinned. (This review has been updated for accuracy.)

Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further. (glossary of Spanish-English words) (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-52116-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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