This whimsical, intriguing, and perplexing puzzle provides an entertaining introduction to puffins.



When a coastal city in Newfoundland is mysteriously inundated with puffins, no one knows what to do until “someone small and smart” devises the perfect plan.

Suddenly, puffins are “popping up everywhere.” Could they be attracted to the city lights, the rows of colorful houses, or the seafood restaurants? Regardless, puffins appear downtown in “unexpected places.” Overhead and underfoot, puffins disturb traffic and businesses, make pets and pigeons uncomfortable, and generally interfere with “everyone’s fun.” People start collecting puffins, hoping to export them to a faraway place—maybe Iceland. Then a clever girl offers a plan to temporarily solve the “puffin problem.” Endnotes explain how the droll, spare, simple text fictionalizes an actual annual occurrence in St. John’s, when puffins become stranded on land. A “Some Fun Puffin Facts” section provides puffin miscellany. The equally droll, spare, and simple pencil-and-watercolor illustrations rely on judicious use of white space, precise lines, and flat colors to produce amusing, detailed drawings of city houses, streets, and businesses. Discerning readers must look carefully, however, to visually detect the tiny, neatly rendered, but quite distinctive puffins perched on rooftops, doorsteps, telephone booths, fountains, playground equipment, basketball hoops, soccer balls, and carousels.

This whimsical, intriguing, and perplexing puzzle provides an entertaining introduction to puffins. (notes) (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: July 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-927917-14-5

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Running the Goat

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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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


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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