Woolbur is an excellent role model of self-confidence and positivity.

READ REVIEW

READY OR NOT, WOOLBUR GOES TO SCHOOL!

From the Woolbur series

An excited Woolbur bursts out of bed on the first day of school, confident and ready to take the experience by the horns (an intention that perhaps inspires the exuberant hairdo he has created with red string).

While Maa isn’t sure Woolbur is ready, Paa doubts the school’s readiness for Woolbur, and indeed, Woolbur is one character who is fairly bursting with personality, and he’s not at all concerned with what others think of him. No matter how positively criticism is couched or what his classmates’ complaints might be, Woolbur’s response is the same: “I know….Isn’t it great?” His creativity comes out in the way he writes his name and in his modern art piece, and he takes the school lunch and the noisiness and newness of the playground games in stride. The end of Woolbur’s day brings things full circle to a sweet tuck-in by his parents. The watercolor-and-pencil illustrations feature much the same things many readers will find in their own schools, only tweaked slightly to accommodate the anthropomorphized, multispecies animal cast (the salad bar is labeled “grain,” “hay,” “clover,” and “bones,” and the school bus is a hay-filled wagon pulled by a tractor). Careful observers will see his classmates begin to relax and enjoy their days, his attitude contagious.

Woolbur is an excellent role model of self-confidence and positivity. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-136657-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 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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