Original and thoroughly delightful.

READ REVIEW

SPENCER'S NEW PET

A boy is devoted to his new pet in this wordless adventure.

From the beginning there is something a bit mysterious and intriguing about this book. Endpapers mimic old-time movie countdowns—“3-2-1”—as if it were a show, and the story itself is divided by black title cards. Viewers are introduced to a child with a small, red balloon dog on a string, possibly made by a clown seen peeking from a tent. Spencer feeds it, reads to it, bathes it, sleeps with it, and takes it to the vet. During a walk in the park a gust of wind tugs the leash from Spencer’s hand. An exhausting chase ensues, involving a carousel, an encounter with a sharp-toothed bulldog, and more before landing them both in the middle of a birthday party where there are many more balloon animals. A game of Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey leads to disaster—and an amazing, incredible surprise. As befitting the vintage-movie conceit, there are close-ups, wide-angles, and multiple vignettes of the breathless, careening chase across the pages. The illustrations are in shades of black, white, and gray with only the red dog providing a splash of color. Spencer presents white, but there is diversity in the depictions of the additional characters. Young readers will be tickled and amazed and will want to view it again and again.

Original and thoroughly delightful. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1877-6

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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