The combined effect is a playful, clever introduction to the hippo that works for read-alouds or independent study.

READ REVIEW

HIPPOS ARE HUGE!

Hippos are huge, graceful and dangerous, as depicted in this colorful, informative book for the youngest naturalists.

From the cover image of a hippo’s gaping maw and the pink endpapers resembling the interior of the hippo’s mouth, readers understand that they will be immersed in details about the unusual creature. Bold claims about its characteristics and prowess appear in big type. The conversational narrative asks questions and directs readers’ attention. Additional fascinating facts appear in a smaller font. It begins with the declaration that hippos are HUGE: “They can weigh as much as fifty men,” or 4 tons. Hippos are fast on land and in water. They can bite a crocodile in half. And although children will undoubtedly giggle upon learning that bulls begin their battles by standing rump to rump batting balls of dung at each other (SPLAT! SPLOP!), the point that the fight can be ferocious is well-made. Mixed-media illustrations—which vary from double-page spreads to spot art—add to the free-flowing style and highlight the hippo’s mottled skin and mostly watery habitat.

The combined effect is a playful, clever introduction to the hippo that works for read-alouds or independent study. (index, author’s note) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6592-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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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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