As Delphine and Beatrice ride off atop two giraffes, readers of this quiet story will savor their new friendship.



An orphaned servant girl whose singing assuages her loneliness discovers the transformative power of compassion.

Set in a queen’s palace in “the wild savannah,” this gentle tale features folkloric motifs and a “kindness prevails” message. Delphine’s already-exhausting workdays worsen when Queen Theodora’s niece, who doesn’t get on with her new stepmother, comes to live at the palace. Princess Beatrice is cruel, blaming Delphine for her own malicious actions. Singing out her loneliness one night, Delphine is surprised by gentle giraffes. Dipping their heads through her bedroom windows, they beckon her to a nighttime stroll. Tiny Delphine, perched between one giraffe’s ears, marvels at the moonlit vista dotted with trees, zebras and more giraffes. Later, when Delphine is mistakenly deposited into Beatrice’s room rather than her own, the princess throws a tantrum at her intrusion. Delphine, spying a bedside portrait of Beatrice’s deceased mother, has just time enough to share her ready empathy and a helpful song before guards imprison her for her infraction. Beatrice pays it forward: The queen, commanding Delphine to sing, is profoundly moved by the girl’s ability and appoints Delphine her singer. Kraegel creates minutely inked watercolor elements—trees, grasslands—as backdrops for simply contoured humans with brown skin, naturally textured hair and bright clothing.

As Delphine and Beatrice ride off atop two giraffes, readers of this quiet story will savor their new friendship. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7001-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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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


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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