A sensible safety lesson and a satisfying story.

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WHEN YOU WANDER

A SEARCH-AND-RESCUE DOG STORY

A charismatic golden retriever narrates this earnest story about finding a toddler who wanders away into the woods.

The unnamed dog is newly qualified as a search-and-rescue dog, along with his female handler. As the story opens, the dog is tracking the missing child by sniffing objects and locations where the boy has been. The child is shown in the dog’s thought bubbles engaging in the activities that led to the various scents. At first, the dog just describes the boy’s activities, but as darkness falls, the dog urges the child to find a tree to hug and stay in one place till the dog can find him. The story’s text flows in poetic fashion, with evocative descriptions such as “squishy snail-slime mud” and “silvery singsong bell” and lyrical, reassuring phrases from the compassionate rescue dog. Despite the potentially scary subject of being lost in the woods at night, the story’s tone projects a sense of brave leadership from the dog, resourcefulness from the child and cozy security when the little boy is returned to his parents. Both dog and boy are endearing in the charming watercolor-and-pencil illustrations.

A sensible safety lesson and a satisfying story. (afterword) (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 30, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9312-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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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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