A beautifully written episode with a strong conservation message.

LITTLE LOST TIGER

In lyrical free verse, nature-writer London gives readers a tiny peek into the lives of a Siberian tiger cub and his mother.

“A river in its icy bed / mumbles in its sleep. / The wooded hills and ridges / sparkle with snow. / Shaggy and frost-tipped, / the tigress and her cub / slip like shadows into a forest / of bone-white birches.” As Spirin’s artwork gets darker and takes on the blue-gray of night, the Striped One hides little Amba under a fallen tree so she can hunt the sika deer in the clearing. But as she is crouched to pounce, the forest erupts into flames, and all the animals flee. All night the mother searches for and calls her cub, but his cry can only be heard with the calming of the wind and fire. Spirin’s watercolor, pastel and gouache artwork neatly complements the images painted in London’s text. Only twice does he anthropomorphize the expressions on the tigers’ faces. The forest fire, though obviously a threat to the forest dwellers, is not vividly portrayed, so readers are unlikely to be to frightened. An author’s note provides more information about endangered Siberian tigers, including the threats to their survival.

A beautifully written episode with a strong conservation message. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7614-6130-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012

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Hee haw.

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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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