Tailor-made for readers who enjoy metafictive, interactive picture books



When the author of this picture book falls asleep, the illustrator—personified as a small purple penguin—sneakily decides to write a story.

In the illustrator’s story, the cute and cuddly Princess Penguin is envious that her older sister, Princess Llama (whose feet smell like cheese), has bigger and better stuff. She wishes on a falling star to send her sister to the moon, and Princess Llama disappears overnight. Princess Penguin briefly enjoys her status as the oldest sister…until it is time to go to bed. Terrified of the dark, the illustrator, Princess Penguin, tries very hard to bring her sister back from the moon. When her various ploys to get her sister back don’t work, the illustrator enlists the help of the author (hilariously named Ima Snoozen) to rescue her sister. Offering an actual story rather than resting as a metafictional meditation, Frost’s hilarious picture book is rife with bold plot twists and cheeky dialogue. For instance, when Princess Llama gets wished to the moon, the narration reads, “Princess Penguin suddenly felt sad and began to cry.” The very next page contradicts this with an emphatic “NOT!!!” accompanied by an image of Princess Penguin dancing under a shiny disco ball. The pictures are bright and colorful, and the illustrator’s and Snoozen’s texts can be distinguished by a change in the typeface.

Tailor-made for readers who enjoy metafictive, interactive picture books . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6064-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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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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