New readers will find two new frenemies to love here. Bravo, Pig and Pug! (Picture book. 3-8)



How do two tiny critters get to be friends? Sometimes it takes a bit of an effort.

At first glance, Pig and Pug seem perfectly matched potential pals—until they get to know each other. They have so much in common: they are teeny, with adorable wide-eyed faces, and travel in style, Pug in a purse and Pig in a pocket. Like many a blind date, things start off well. Their eyes meet, and the small talk begins. That’s when things get sticky. Confusion sets in: Pug insists that Pig is a pug and hollers, “Oh! Pig! Pig the Pudgy Pug!” Pig takes umbrage at the slight. Poking, pouncing, and further name-calling commence, and soon these two pocket-sized competitors are so exhausted that they have to call timeout. Frequently repeated simple words, many in speech bubbles, make this an excellent choice for new readers, especially kids who love readers’ theater and partner reading. Cartoon-style illustrations feature especially expressive eye and ear movement to telegraph the animals’ emotions. The teal and off-red background color scheme matches the characters’ clothing and gives everything a warm retro feel. Especially effective are two double-page spreads in which Pug finds himself rolling in the mud (like a pig?), setting up rapprochement.

New readers will find two new frenemies to love here. Bravo, Pig and Pug! (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2131-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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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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