That each little pig thoroughly subverts gender stereotypes is simply icing on one perfectly delightful cake

PAUL & ANTOINETTE

Two sibling pigs who couldn’t be more different spend the day together.

Paul is a neatnik who loves to make “sure everything is sparkling and in its place.” Antoinette likes cleaning too, so long as it involves “licking the plates and sticky knives” after she’s made her Two-Taste Toasts. Paul’s idea of a good day is tweezing the parts of a model ship into place. Antoinette’s is finding dead birds, bugs, and beetles. When Antoinette finally hauls Paul outside, “he’s inspired to think deeply about Ikebana,” while she licks a snail, names it Edmond, and then tucks it into her pocket. Working in deeply hued watercolors, Kerascoët (duo Marie Pommepuy and Sébastian Cosset) creates an appealing, adult-free world, neatly expanding on their wry text. When Antoinette throws herself at what Paul sees as a “ferocious beast”—perhaps a bison, yeti, or werewolf—readers see an enormous, benign brown dog. Boisterous Antoinette has a perpetual (if ever changing) stain around her mouth; prim Paul wears glasses. It would be easy to paint Paul as an irredeemable prig, simply a foil to the dynamic Antoinette, but Kerascoët refrains, simply endowing each little pig with oodles of personality, however contrasting; Antoinette splashes in every mud puddle, while Paul leaps “elegantly over each” one. No matter the differences, the affection between the siblings is manifest.

That each little pig thoroughly subverts gender stereotypes is simply icing on one perfectly delightful cake . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59270-196-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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Hee haw.

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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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Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale.

YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL

From the You Are (Not) Small series

Fuzzy, bearlike creatures of different sizes relate to one another in an amusing story that explores the relative nature of size.

A small purple creature meets a similarly shaped but much larger orange critter. The purple creature maintains that the orange creature is “big”; the orange one counters by calling the purple one “small.” This continues, devolving into a very funny shouting match, pages full of each type of creature hollering across the gutter. This is followed by a show-stopping double-page spread depicting two huge, blue legs and the single word “Boom!” in huge display type. Tiny, pink critters then float down by parachute, further complicating the size comparisons. Eventually, these brightly colored animals learn to see things in a different way. In the end, they decide they are all hungry and trudge off to eat together. The story is told effectively with just a few words per page, though younger readers might need help understanding the size and perspective concepts. Cartoon-style illustrations in ink and watercolor use simple shapes with heavy black outlines set off by lots of white space, with an oversized format and large typeface adding to the spare but polished design. While the story itself seems simple, the concepts are pertinent to several important social issues such as bullying and racism, as well as understanding point of view.

Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4772-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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