Not natural history by any means, but this slice of (fly) life is beguilingly, infectiously whimsical.

ASTRID THE FLY

Astrid the fly introduces readers to her (huge) family and their home behind the sofa in this Swedish import.

Astrid tells readers how she loves to fly and watch “what’s happening behind the warm window” (the oven) and, most of all, how she loves to eat. Her favorite thing to eat is Danish salami! Once, she ate so much that she fell asleep in the refrigerator—although of course she doesn’t really understand what the refrigerator is. Her aunt tries to school her into sensible behavior with stories of danger, most particularly of the HORRIBLE INHALING MACHINE (young readers will recognize the universality of the vacuum cleaner) that got Uncle Abe, but Astrid is intrepid in her desire for exploration and food. She is pretty cute and, frankly, not very flylike, with her topknot and rosy cheeks. Reds and yellows and a lively black line dominate the ink-and-watercolor illustrations; the pictures look appropriately (for a fly) dashed off but are carefully composed with an eye to pattern and shape. What flies really eat besides foodstuffs children will recognize remains unmentioned, although Astrid gives a nod to changing food choices in the end.

Not natural history by any means, but this slice of (fly) life is beguilingly, infectiously whimsical. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3200-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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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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