Cute, but one can’t help but wish for a separation of screen and text.

READ REVIEW

THE CHICKEN PROBLEM

Oxley and Aronson present a work based on their new PBS show, Peg + Cat.

It’s a good thing that Peg and Cat are problem-solvers. Their picnic has been laid, and everyone has a piece of pie just the right size for them—but there are three picnickers and four pieces of pie. While Peg melts down about the lonely piece of pie, Cat goes to the coop and gets a chick, solving the problem. But by leaving the coop unlatched, he has created a bigger problem—100 times larger, to be exact. When collecting the adorable chicks by hand only garners 10, the duo latch onto the MacGuffin of using "wheely things" to lure the chicks back, because “[c]hickens really love going for a ride.” While the story is not all that strong, the pictures are a riot, math subtly woven into both the text and layout—the clouds are infinity signs, and the page numbers are all +1 math problems. There are places where the text comes up to the level of the artwork, particularly the spreads that depict the chicks running amok, the text describing their actions so readers can search the chicken-crowded scenes to find them. Standouts include “chickens doing the chicken dance” and “chickens bending over and wiggling their bottoms in the air.”

Cute, but one can’t help but wish for a separation of screen and text. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86989-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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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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