Wonderfully ridiculous in premise and execution and abounding in creative touches, this will surely spark student spinoffs.

OH NO! NOT AGAIN!

(OR HOW I BUILT A TIME MACHINE TO SAVE HISTORY) (OR AT LEAST MY HISTORY GRADE)

Having recovered from the world-destroying science project she created in the first Oh No! (2010), Barnett’s overachiever has a new dilemma: Her history test is returned with one point off for an incorrect answer.

Noting that “Belgium” is not the country where the oldest prehistoric cave paintings exist, she devises a solution completely out of proportion to the problem. Using a “Phun Times” Kiddie Pool as a foundation, she builds a time machine to alter history. After a few glitches (landing in a pre-Neanderthal world and then in the French Revolution), she finds her Belgian cavemen. As in the companion story, the digital compositions are framed with black horizontal borders and marked with white vertical lines to establish a cinematic context. The plot unfolds through speech bubbles, the faux-technical diagrams on graph paper covering the endpapers and the extremely funny actions and expressions of Santat’s caricatures. Children will relish the two cavemen’s antics: They stick paintbrushes in their noses, chomp on the palette and spray paint each other. The duo gives the transporter a spin while the frustrated scholar decorates the cave herself. She emerges to find one sporting Napoleon’s hat, a Roman chariot speeding by and other anachronisms—not to mention an “F” on her test, now that history has been rearranged.

Wonderfully ridiculous in premise and execution and abounding in creative touches, this will surely spark student spinoffs. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-142314912-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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Hee haw.

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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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