Otherwise a seamless adaptation of a modern classic, inventively enhanced, hilarious, a joy to read—particularly aloud.



Still the best Dr. Seuss tribute ever, Sierra’s rhymed 2004 tale of a librarian who gets all the animals in the zoo reading and writing is even funnier and more kinetic with digital flourishes.

Though Molly McGrew drives her bookmobile into the zoo by mistake, she does such a fine job turning her animal audience on to reading and writing that by the end there’s nothing for it but to build a branch library on the grounds. Here, an uncredited but engagingly exuberant narrator reads it aloud while each word is highlighted. The bouncy, playful verses—“Raccoons read alone and baboons read in bunches. / And llamas read dramas while eating their llunches”—accompany 17 brightly colored tableaus, each composed of layers that pop into view and roll back and forth with tilts of the tablet. Along with automatic but undistracting movements, there are balloons and balls to lead with a finger; blinks, nods, hysterical laughter (from the hyenas) and roars that are induced by a finger tap; “stinging” comments from an ill-tempered scorpion—even the occasional stampede. The narration and the soundtrack can be switched off separately, and an index of thumbnail images provides repeat visitors with shortcuts to favorite pages. As apps go this one is a little slow to load, and the art’s tilt-induced rolling may induce queasy stomachs (particularly for readers in moving vehicles) if overdone.

Otherwise a seamless adaptation of a modern classic, inventively enhanced, hilarious, a joy to read—particularly aloud. (iPad storybook app. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2011


Page Count: -

Publisher: Random House Digital

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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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


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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