Delightful and important.

READ REVIEW

A NORMAL PIG

Just what is “normal”?

“Pip was a normal pig who did normal stuff.” Readers will note that she has spots and her all-pink classmates don’t and that one of her parents is gray and the other is pink. She thinks she’s as normal as they come until a new classmate tells her that her lunch “stinks.” Pip’s suddenly aware that she’s not the same as others in her class. Then another pig asks if her mother, who is gray, is her “babysitter.” When she demands a “normal lunch,” her mother suggests a trip into the city. At the museum, Pip hears a bunch of different languages, and at the playground, every pig looks different. When Pip remarks on the “weird” food at a food truck, a striped pig says, “Maybe it’s weird for you, but not for me. I like it.” Bolstered, when her new classmate again jeers at her “weird lunch” back at school, Pip defiantly repeats what she heard in the city, then offers everyone a taste…and her classmates like it. Pip feels “pretty normal” after that. Debut author/illustrator Steele communicates her message that “normal” is in the eye of the beholder without a whiff of preachiness. Her cartoon pigs, done in watercolor with assured, black outlines, are appealing, and any child who feels they stand out in any way will identify and feel empowered.

Delightful and important. (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274857-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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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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