Bringing the beauty of and responsibility for nature to the city, this will win over readers with its parallel storytelling...

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NOAH BUILDS AN ARK

Noah receives a lesson on surviving storms from his family and uses it to give safe passage to the denizens of the family’s backyard.

Salamanders, toads, snakes, hummingbirds, butterflies, field mice, and grasshoppers can all be found in little Noah’s backyard garden. Noah spies the dark clouds hovering over the cityscape as his father declares, “It’s going to be a beauty.” Rather than depict heavy rainstorms as ominous and menacing, Banks and Rocco instead instill the message that the proper preparations can ensure a family’s safety. That logic extends to the backyard. As Noah’s father boards up the windows of their row house, Noah capably repurposes his broken-down wagon into an ark. As Noah’s mother and sister stack groceries and fill water jugs, Noah prepares food for the ark’s creatures. When the rain finally arrives, the family is soothed enough to enjoy board games and share stories by candlelight. Inside the ark, the creatures imaginatively begin to take advantage of one another’s intimate company as well. When the storm finally settles, the creatures exit, two by two of course, back to the tiny, thriving ecosystem of the family’s fenced-in slice of earth. Rocco’s meticulous paintings depict a brown-skinned family carefully preparing for the weather; the animals are not directly anthropomorphized, but compositions give a cozy sense of community.

Bringing the beauty of and responsibility for nature to the city, this will win over readers with its parallel storytelling and appreciation for human- and nonhumankind alike. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7484-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 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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