Would that all such nighttime disturbances could be so easily explained.

DUCK, DUCK, DINOSAUR AND THE NOISE AT NIGHT

The loud noise that keeps waking Feather, Flap, and Spike turns out to have a decidedly un-scary origin.

Returning for a second outing (Duck, Duck, Dinosaur, 2016), three unlikely sibs—two feathered and one big, green, and scaled—have outgrown their nest and proudly moved to a nearby bower of their own. But a humongous “GRRORE!” sends first Spike and then the others fleeing into the bushes. And hardly have they settled down again than the shattering noise puts them to flight once more. Soon they’re exhausted. What to do? The popeyed younglings in Vidal’s moonlit scenes, particularly Spike, who is all massive head and feet with a nearly imperceptible body between, make droll embodiments of a common nighttime anxiety. The huge size of the rumbling roar on the page, plus the repetitive structure of George’s narrative, lightens the tone further. Deciding at last to fight noise with noise, Feather and Flap vigorously whale away at tree trunks, but Spike only nods off…and the true nature of the earth-shaking blasts are revealed. Mystery solved, the trio nestles down happily beneath dino-snores that are now shrunk to an ignorable size.

Would that all such nighttime disturbances could be so easily explained. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-235317-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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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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Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow,...

MY NEW FRIEND IS SO FUN!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Can Gerald and Piggie’s friendship withstand the friendly overtures of Brian Bat?

When Snake informs Gerald that Piggie is playing with Brian Bat, he is at first complacent. Brian is “nice,” he observes; Snake concurs—after all, he says, “Brian is my Best Friend!” Their mutual reflection that Piggie and Brian “must be having a super-duper fun time!” turns, however, to paranoia when they realize that if their best pals “are having that much fun together, then… / …maybe they do not need us” (that last is printed in teeny-tiny, utterly demoralized type). Gerald and Snake dash/slither to put an end to the fun. Their fears are confirmed when the two new buddies tell them they have “been playing BEST FRIEND GAMES!”—which, it turns out, means making drawings of their respective best friends, Gerald and Snake. Awww. While the buildup to the friends’ confrontation is characteristically funny, there’s a certain feeling of anticlimax to the story’s resolution. How many young children, when playing with a new friend, are likely to spend their time thinking of the friends that they are not playing with? This is unfortunate, as the emotions that Gerald and Snake experience are realistic and profound, deserving of more than a platitudinous, unrealistic response.

Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow, color-coded speech bubbles, hilarious body language—except an emotionally satisfying ending. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7958-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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