The conclusion kids might draw? Going to school isn’t nearly as bad as being a dog.

DOG DAYS OF SCHOOL

“Be careful what you wish for” is just one of the messages in this humorous book about switching places.

Charlie is tired of school and all the letter practice and picture drawing. His dog, Norman, doesn’t have to go to school. Charlie wishes on a star to be a dog, and the next morning, he and Norman have switched places. While the dog rushes off to school to enjoy writing, playing kickball and making clay sculptures, Charlie lies back, relishing the opportunity to get some extra sleep and watch the leaves fall. But as the week goes on, both Norman and Charlie begin to see the drawbacks of the new arrangement. Norman gets in trouble for his chewing habit and must listen to a story about cats. Charlie drinks out of the toilet and gets locked outside in the cold. One wish-upon-a-star later, Charlie couldn’t be happier to wake up in his own bed and be going back to school. Biggs’ illustrations, done in a bright palette of aqua, olive, purple, mustard, red and orange, are hysterical, as the two swap places but not bodies: The boy acts like a dog and vice versa. And while the people’s faces manage to convey emotion with just a tiny mouth and dot eyes, Norman’s droll expression never changes, adding to the farcical nature of the tale.

The conclusion kids might draw? Going to school isn’t nearly as bad as being a dog. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 17, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7868-5493-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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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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