THE HONEYBEE MAN

Tell it to the bees. The ancient art of beekeeping is alive and well in Brooklyn, N.Y. Fred is dedicated to his bees and greets them each morning on his rooftop. He has named the queens Mab, Boadicea and Nefertiti, after legendary historic figures; the bees are his “sweeties” and his “darlings.” He hums with them as they swarm and flies with them in his imagination as they search for the most fragrant flowers. When the time is right, he carefully gathers their honey, jars it, shares it with his neighbors and, of course, savors some of that luscious honey himself. Nargi’s descriptive language is filled with smell and sound and sight, carrying readers right up to that rooftop with Fred, while seamlessly interweaving detailed information about beekeeping. An afterword of “amazing facts” explains more about apiarists, bees’ life cycles and more, all in light, easy-to-understand syntax. Brooker’s oil-and-collage illustrations, appropriately rendered in greens and browns, golds and ambers, enhance the text beautifully. They accurately depict Fred’s and the bees’ actions while creating a stylized, fanciful view of a homey Brooklyn neighborhood, complete with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge. Even the endpapers are integral to the work, presenting labeled diagrams of bees and beekeeping materials. Eccentric and unusual with an appealing, gentle charm. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: March 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-84980-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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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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