Either Horne was in Gehl’s pocket or vice versa, because this utterly seamless blend of story and art is an ingenious treat...



What’s wrong with Abuela Lola? Our birthday girl asked her three times for amusement-park tickets, and you know what? Abuela sent her a take-charge chicken styling yellow construction boots instead!

If that isn’t bad enough, the tool-belt–wearing denizen of the barnyard has subverted all the pigtailed Latina’s pets. Not a one has time for cake, no one wants to play, and everyone is ignoring the aggrieved narrator. To make matters worse, the chicken (via imperative-clause picket signs) demands that Abuela travel posthaste to the child’s backyard. Dogs wearing hard hats, birds hoisting girders, grandmas operating bulldozers—has the world gone mad? Gehl’s sparsely worded wink to Anne Isabella Ritchie’s evolving axiom, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for life,” is made into a masterpiece by Horne’s distinctive and humorously sly illustrations. The raucous colors pop against the wry, understated refrain, “I got a chicken for my birthday.” Practically every clever detail begs to be the center of attention. Is the chicken’s scrolled supply list with the sneakily embedded song lyrics the pièce de résistance, or is it the hamster powering the monstrous Ferris wheel? Visual puns compete with subtle tweaks to the funny bone, and each deserves to be savored in its own right.

Either Horne was in Gehl’s pocket or vice versa, because this utterly seamless blend of story and art is an ingenious treat for all ages. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5124-3130-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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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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