Fun, clever, and empowering, this is the rare case of a sequel that outshines its predecessor.

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TWO PROBLEMS FOR SOPHIA

Sophia proves she’s not only a gifted linguist and negotiator (One Word from Sophia, 2015), but a brilliant engineer, as well.

Endpapers (cleverly oriented to require a height-emphasizing 90-degree turn) open the book with “giraffacts” that are referenced in the story. Sophia’s birthday wish from the previous installment has been fulfilled, but she’s “happysad”: It seems that “giraffe-size problems” come with Noodle, her kiss-happy, snoring One True Desire. Ismail’s expressive, hilarious watercolor-and–colored-pencil illustrations once again shine. Noodle has a long tongue—the giraffacts state it’s about 20 inches long—which makes his liquid kisses less-than-welcome to many members of Sophia’s interracial family. Though Noodle is “especially fond of Grand-mamá,” she is decidedly not a fan of his “sloppy” kisses. Neither is the family dog, who, dismayed and disgusted, is lifted right off the ground by Noodle’s extralong tongue! With Noodle’s snoring keeping the entire family awake, Sophia’s jurist mother gives her a directive: “to find a perdurable solution to his problems” (the first of many synonyms for “permanent”). That’s all Sophia needs to let her incredible engineering skills shine. First, she wisely consults an expert, an acoustical engineer, depicted as a woman of color. When at first she doesn’t succeed, Sophia, who has brown skin and wears her hair in two Afro-puff ponytails, perseveres until she finds an abiding solution.

Fun, clever, and empowering, this is the rare case of a sequel that outshines its predecessor. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7788-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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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