Beautiful but bifurcated, with the two stories in one making it a challenge to determine the audience.

READ REVIEW

FINDING WINNIE

THE TRUE STORY OF THE WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS BEAR

A mother tells a true bedtime story about the bear that inspired Winnie-the-Pooh’s name.

Mom tells little Cole about Harry, a veterinarian in Winnipeg “about a hundred years before you were born.” En route to his World War I muster, Harry buys a bear cub from a trapper and names her Winnipeg “so we’ll never be far from home.” Winnie travels overseas with the Canadian soldiers to training in England, but when they ship out to France for actual combat, Harry leaves her at the London Zoo. “That’s the end of Harry and Winnie’s story,” but another section begins, about a boy named Christopher Robin Milne who plays with Winnie at the London Zoo. Christopher Robin names his stuffed bear Winnie-the-Pooh after her, and his father—A.A. Milne, of course—takes the name and runs with it. Mattick’s prose has a storyteller’s rhythm and features the occasional flourish (repeating “his heart made up his mind”); Blackall’s watercolor-and-ink illustrations have a peaceful stillness that’s welcome in a book that, though not about combat, concerns the trappings of war. A photo album includes snapshots of Winnie with her soldiers and with Christopher Robin. The piece has something of a split personality, and the Winnie-the-Pooh angle comes so late it seems almost an afterthought.

Beautiful but bifurcated, with the two stories in one making it a challenge to determine the audience. (photo album) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-32490-8

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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