Lively fun. Readers may pick up some pointers for their own games of hide-and-seek.

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THE ELEPHANTS' GUIDE TO HIDE-AND-SEEK

Elephants can do lots of stuff; they never forget, for instance. But play hide-and-seek? Not so much.

Face it: Whenever elephants play this game with child friends, guess who inevitably gets found first? These giants’ girth and height, not to mention trunks, account for their consistent failure to hide successfully. Now the Elephant Hobby and Sport League comes to the rescue with The Elephants’ Guide to Hide-and-Seek, which features crafty ploys to help level playing fields. Wise pachyderms would do well to bring their vaunted memories to bear on its pages. Sample tips: hiding in a large bathtub with shower curtains and standing behind a humongous pile of unsorted laundry (the kind found in a typical kid’s bedroom). Some don’ts? Cramming into too-small spaces, like doghouses, or pretending to be a lump in a bed. If nothing works, the guide also advises that elephants just be “it”—or simply accept the fun of being found. After all, “you love those kids!” This cute but slight tale mines humor from its snarky narration, voiced in the cheesy tone of a TV commercial. Cheery, energetic, expressive cartoons depict kids with varied skin tones and hairstyles playing in the park with their blue, bespectacled elephant pal as the latter demonstrates various tips outlined in the guide.

Lively fun. Readers may pick up some pointers for their own games of hide-and-seek. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7846-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...

THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING

Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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