This well-crafted horse story explores the themes of friendship and facing fears for those getting ready to move on from...

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SPOOKY SEASON

From the Bramble and Maggie series , Vol. 3

Transitioning readers enamored with horses will be happy to immerse themselves in the third title of the Bramble and Maggie series, in which Maggie and her horse learn to cope with real and imagined fears.

In each of the three chapters, Bramble spooks at the various sights and particular sounds of autumn. First Bramble is made uneasy by the new scarecrow in a neighbor’s yard. But Maggie coaxes her equine friend to take a closer look. Who knew something a bit scary could be so tasty! The next chapter finds Bramble reacting to falling acorns. As she goes one way, Maggie goes the other way…and falls. Maggie wants to call it a day, but Bramble knows that “riders always got back on. That made them feel much better. Bramble stood very still….She waited.” Finally it is Halloween, and the two friends need to decide how to dress up. But now the lanes are full of scary-looking creatures. Each of the pair must find her courage so that the other will not be afraid. Haas keeps descriptive language succinct while integrating entertaining dialogue. Friend’s gouache illustrations ably depict Bramble’s expressions of alarm and stubborn persistence, humorously extending the text.

This well-crafted horse story explores the themes of friendship and facing fears for those getting ready to move on from early readers. (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6450-3

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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