An interesting take on discrimination and acceptance that will introduce young readers to the sound of an influential...

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I'M IN LOVE WITH A BIG BLUE FROG

Braunstein’s song about racial tolerance comes to 21st-century readers in this picture book, which would not be complete without the enclosed CD recording by Peter, Paul and Mary.

Brunet’s zany, realistic illustrations vividly portray both the love between the freckled redhead and the tall, lanky blue Dr. Phrog (he has a Ph.D.) and the discrimination they face as a result of their “interracial” relationship despite the frog’s solid background, education and family. Both humans and animals fill the huge, full-bleed spreads, in a town that is obviously populated by both, but in no other context do readers see the species mixing. An elephant shields its calf’s eyes from the sight of the two sipping from one glass at the soda fountain while the human soda jerk looks on disapprovingly; homogeneous family groups play at the playground (and on the next page, the narrator imagines her fabulous frog/human children). The final illustration departs from this hostility, showing the couple handing out frog-shaped ice-cream pops to the locals, who sport “I heart Phrog” shirts and buttons. While this is certainly a positive development, readers will wonder exactly how the turnaround happened. A “Performers’ Note” explains the song’s historical background.

An interesting take on discrimination and acceptance that will introduce young readers to the sound of an influential musical group. (illustrator’s note, three-song CD) (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-936140-37-4

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Imagine Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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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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