Equal parts wistful and uplifting—a small triumph.

READ REVIEW

NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, WEST

A previously unpublished story from the author of Goodnight Moon takes flight in this poignant, charming picture book.

A little bird readies herself to fly from her nest. From her mother, the little bird learns how to move effortlessly on the wind and avoid storms. In their nest in the sycamore tree, the mother bird sings a song as the little bird asks, “When I fly away, which is best, / North, South, East, or West?” Soon the little bird is off on her own under the light of the sun. She first flies to the North, where chilly white reigns: much too cold to build a nest. The South, with its jumble of greens and flowers, proves too hot. Beside the sea in the West, the little bird remembers the sycamore tree. Clearly, “the East was home.” Unfolding at a gentle pace, Brown’s story ruminates on the idea of leaving—and returning to—home with great compassion. Likewise, the author exposes unspoken depths that make up the parent-child bond, offering nuance and complexity in measured words. Full of simple, curved shapes set in evocative alignments, Pizzoli’s illustrations complement the story well. They’re mostly unadorned and restrained, underlining the strength of simplicity in jump-starting the imagination. A bittersweet ending makes this homecoming feel altogether real.

Equal parts wistful and uplifting—a small triumph. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-026278-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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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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