The importance of keeping promises is delivered with a hearty dose of humor, making this a book to return to.

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PARTY CROC!

A FOLKTALE FROM ZIMBABWE

A jolly Zimbabwean folk tale teaches the importance of keeping promises.

Zuva wishes for something to catch fish with when a friendly crocodile offers to catch some for her. But he wants something in return. Zuva promises the crocodile a food-filled party in town on Saturday if only he will get her some fish today. She figures the crocodile will forget the promise and won’t know when Saturday is. But this is a party croc, whose enthusiasm for the promised party will not let him forget it. Zuva shares the crocodile’s fish with the village but does not give proper credit. Each day, the excited crocodile checks in to see which day of the week it is, the patterned text lending itself to audience participation in MacDonald’s trademark style. When Saturday arrives, he is ready to roll. Surprised, Zuva tries to keep the crocodile quiet by feeding him, but the croc is not satisfied and disturbs the village, uncovering Zuva’s omission. Digitally stylized villagers, their mouths painted to the sides of their faces, meet the jolly crocodile’s questions with confusion, allowing readers to be in on the joke. Details add to the fun: He is dolled up with fish bracelets and a leaf bow tie! A brief author’s note details the origin of the tale.

The importance of keeping promises is delivered with a hearty dose of humor, making this a book to return to. (Picture book/folk tale. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6320-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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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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