With a light touch (and much onomatopoeia), Crawford offers compassion and insight on farm-animal rescues.

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GWEN THE RESCUE HEN

Chickens in a factory farm get an unexpected chance at a better life.

Crammed into a tiny cage, with hardly any room to move, Hen longs to stretch her wings and fly. But like the other chickens in the cages that line the pitch-black barn, she is part of an egg farm, so the only flying she can do is in her dreams. Suddenly a roaring sound fills the air (“HOWOOOOH!”). A tornado rips the roof off of the barn (“KABOOM!”) and takes Hen’s cage swirling with it. When she touches down (“CLONK!”), she is amazed to see a world of color and tasty grass. But there are also new dangers to fear: barking dogs and zooming motorcycles. Luckily she meets Mateo, a tan-skinned, brown-haired boy who has a penchant for chickens. Mateo renames Hen “Gwen” and learns to care for her and her friends, whom he finds and brings home. Readers will happily learn along with Mateo, using the intriguing list of chicken facts appended at the end. Stangl’s teardrop-shaped fowl further endear as they peer out from the pages with big eyes and bobbling bodies.

With a light touch (and much onomatopoeia), Crawford offers compassion and insight on farm-animal rescues. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-99886-232-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Stone Pier

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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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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