An attractive and important read, particularly in light of current events in India.



This Indian import touts both cultural heritage and women’s rights.

Born just a few minutes apart, a 3 1/2-kilo girl named Sundari and a 500-kilo elephant calf named Lakshmi are raised as “twins.” Their fathers hold important positions in the king’s service: Sundari’s father is the chief mahout, or elephant trainer, and Lakshmi’s father, Drona, is the majestic bull that leads the Dussehra procession in Mysore. Sundari dreams of becoming a mahout like her father, but as a female, she is expected to become a palace dancer. In this folk tale–like story characterized by sophisticated vocabulary and beautifully patterned artwork, the Indian girl secretly practices being a mahout with her beloved elephant. When Drona becomes too ill to carry the howdah on his back and lead the procession and his sons are considered “disappointingly ordinary,” Sundari dares to recommend Lakshmi to take the old elephant’s place. And when a respected elder notes that Lakshmi hasn’t been trained to carry the howdah, he faces wrath from both Lakshmi’s father and the Raja when he suggests Sundari for the job. A creative queen intervenes, devising a plan to turn Sundari into the first female mahout. While some Indian terms can be gleaned from textual clues, adult intervention may be needed for Western readers.

An attractive and important read, particularly in light of current events in India. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-8-181-90302-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Karadi Tales

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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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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Superficially appealing; much less so upon closer examination.


When Rabbit’s unbridled mania for collecting carrots leaves him unable to sleep in his cozy burrow, other animals offer to put him up.

But to Rabbit, their homes are just more storage space for carrots: Tortoise’s overstuffed shell cracks open; the branch breaks beneath Bird’s nest; Squirrel’s tree trunk topples over; and Beaver’s bulging lodge collapses at the first rainstorm. Impelled by guilt and the epiphany that “carrots weren’t for collecting—they were for SHARING!” Rabbit invites his newly homeless friends into his intact, and inexplicably now-roomy, burrow for a crunchy banquet. This could be read (with some effort) as a lightly humorous fable with a happy ending, and Hudson’s depictions of carrot-strewn natural scenes, of Rabbit as a plush bunny, and of the other animals as, at worst, mildly out of sorts support that take. Still, the insistent way Rabbit keeps forcing himself on his friends and the magnitude of the successive disasters may leave even less-reflective readers disturbed. Moreover, as Rabbit is never seen actually eating a carrot, his stockpiling looks a lot like the sort of compulsive hoarding that, in humans, is regarded as a mental illness.

Superficially appealing; much less so upon closer examination. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62370-638-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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