Here’s hoping readers feel the same way about school as Stanley does; even if they don’t, though, they are sure to laugh at...

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STANLEY AT SCHOOL

From the Stanley series

Stanley’s curiosity this time leads him to find out what all the kids do in school every day.

Tired of being left outside all the time, Stanley, Gassy Jack, Alice, and Nutsy (each dog’s personality masterfully captured by Slavin) team up to take on the school. They figure out how to open the huge door, conquer their fears of the school’s great size, and then glory in its delights—the lunches, the kids, running through the hallways and all kinds of places familiar to students everywhere—until they run into a room with no exit and the “toppest dog” of all: the principal (depicted as a no-nonsense black woman). But the fierce-looking administrator just pats the dogs’ heads kindly and then orders them out the door. And the following day, the four friends (and all the dogs they’ve blabbed to) are waiting when the school doors open at the end of the day—because kids are almost as much fun as dogs, and school isn’t far behind. Slavin’s illustrations are a delight, from the dogs’ revels and the kids’ excitement to the postures and facial expressions of the dogs as they await the principal’s judgment. The kids are depicted with a range of skin colors and hair textures, and at least one child is in a wheelchair.

Here’s hoping readers feel the same way about school as Stanley does; even if they don’t, though, they are sure to laugh at the dogs’ adventures. Where will they end up next? (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-77138-096-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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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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