This unusual Grimm adaptation utilizes traditional fairy-tale treatments (lyrical language, graceful lettering) alongside...

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HANS MY HEDGEHOG

A TALE FROM THE BROTHERS GRIMM

Hans, half hedgehog and half human, lives as a hermit, deep in a forest with a rooster steed and an entourage of pigs, happily playing his fiddle, until two kings make promises that send him looking for his just reward: a princess.

This unusual Grimm adaptation utilizes traditional fairy-tale treatments (lyrical language, graceful lettering) alongside innovative artistic choices (embedded paneling, sharp spot art). Inset oval illustrations, framed with blurred edging, draws eyes, while coal-black silhouetted scenes contribute to storytelling, adding even more depth to rich acrylic illustrations. Flecked, smudged backgrounds look like fibrous paper and complement the pictures’ prevalent, ripe oranges, yellows, reds and blues. Plump, puppetlike people might seem dated, but Hans breaks from old-school fairy-tale renderings as a contemporary character; he’s cute, comical and soulful enough to seem both freakish and sad. To older children, just seeing lines drawn between insiders and outsiders, between the attractive and unattractive, Hans’ story seems grave. While the ending is completely expected, readers can't help loving it and even giving up a little gasp. When a kind princess inspires magical music from Hans’ fiddle, he transforms into an entirely human hottie—and even looks like his old spiky self, with red tufted hair and a scratchy beard!  Prickly, a bit funny and a bit dark: classic Grimm, modernized.   (author’s note) (Picture book/fairy tale. 4-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4169-1533-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011

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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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