From the Moby Shinobi series , Vol. 1

Amusing and accessible.

Moby Shinobi, a young ninja, is eager to use his many skills to help Farmer Bob with his myriad chores.

Ready to kick, spin, jab, jump, and run, Moby has good intentions, but his “help” usually ends in disastrous upheaval on the farm. His flip-and-swipe method of collecting eggs leaves shards and goo all over the coop, along with some very disturbed chickens. Ninja spinning while scooping Pitchfork Pete’s hay has everyone sneezing. Jumping with pails of slop for the pigs creates a muddy mess in the pen. Seeing the results of his good intentions, Moby laments “I did my ninja best you see. / I wish there was a job for me.” Colorful digital artwork with an animation aesthetic depicts farm animals and humans alike with oversized oval eyes reflecting the astonishment caused by Moby’s actions. Readable rhyming couplets set up the action, which is captured in sequences of one-word action verbs that accompany vignettes that depict the accumulating chaos. For example, in trying to collect eggs, Moby’s “FLIP! / SWIPE!” is followed by the chickens’ “SQUAWK! / CRACK!” Readers should laugh along with the antics, empathize with Farmer Bob’s dismay, and cheer in the end when Moby’s skills finally come in handy. Moby and Farmer Bob are light-skinned; Pitchfork Pete has brown skin.

Amusing and accessible. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-93537-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016


From the Elephant & Piggie series

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014


Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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