What a circus show, indeed! (Picture book. 4-8)

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ZEBRA ON THE GO

An outraged lion chases a clever zebra out of the circus and into a wild outdoor escapade.

Told in a bouncing rhyme, the story opens at the beginning of Fierce Lion and Speedy Zebra’s circus act, just before Zebra accidentally stomps a hoof down on Lion’s toe. In light meter and rapid rhymes, readers learn that Lion becomes furious: “Lion roaring, temper soaring. / Zebra darting, crowd is parting. // Away he’s racing, Lion’s chasing. / Zebra on the go!” Out of the circus tent, through traffic, toward an oceanside park runs Zebra, with Lion on his heels. Following closely behind is the full circus menagerie: elephants, giraffes, monkeys, clowns, acrobats, prancing bears, and their worried ringleader among others. In pursuit—zigzagging along the pier, down the beach, and onto boats—it appears Lion may finally catch up to Zebra; however, Lion’s unreliable, inflatable craft is punctured by a narwhal, and he begins to sink along with it. Offering zippy rhymes and a sweet lesson in friendship, Nogales’ story will unquestionably stand as a solid read-aloud that is equally entertaining for both adults and children. Rocha’s clever illustrations, diverse characters, and abundant search-and-find treats adorn every page and bring the raucous event to life. For exceptionally perceptive observers, following the circus-act pandemonium will be just as entertaining as the central chase. Readers will surely revisit this book closely.

What a circus show, indeed! (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-56145-911-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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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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