This boardwalk frolic proves even small fries can solve big mysteries.

READ REVIEW

BEN & ZIP

TWO SHORT FRIENDS

A beachside lost-and-found adventure, told from a kid’s point of view.

“Ben was short. Zip was shorter. They skipped along the boardwalk toward their favorite spot....” So begins this tale of a small boy who loses his smaller friend on a beachside boardwalk. The text informs readers that they are headed toward a popcorn wagon, while the illustration, a low aerial view of the beach and boardwalk dotted with people, makes it hard to tell who’s Ben and who’s Zip. Suddenly the wind whips up, the sound of thunder fills the air, and Zip dashes off, disappearing into the crowd. Then Ben is shown, dressed in a bold yellow-and-blue basketball jersey, frantically searching for Zip with his parents in tow. At first, all Ben can see is the vista from his level: “[r]ight knees, left knees, knees with sandy patches. / Fat knees, bony knees, knees with bumps and scratches.” The image of this forest of feet and legs is delightfully funny; some legs are hairy and some are not, and one pair reveals a whopping sunburn above the sock line. Each time Ben climbs a bit higher to scout out from a better view, the prose turns into a humorous rhyming description of what he sees: bellies, hair, an empty beach (it has begun to rain). The well-paced watercolor illustrations, abundant with marvelous, comic details, are a neat complement to the adventure.

This boardwalk frolic proves even small fries can solve big mysteries. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-9362612-8-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flashlight Press

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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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