While the activities and song will be valuable learning tools, the artwork leaves something to be desired, especially in a...



Berkes continues her “Over in the Meadow” habitat songs with this look at animals on a farm.

Over on the farm, a hen and her one chick peck, a nanny goat and her two kids nibble, and a cow and her three calves swish (at a bumblebee), and so the pattern continues through kittens, foals, mouse pups, owlets, turkey poults, ducklings, and piglets. The names of the animal babies are in a colored type to set them off, though the numbers are not given similar treatment; a prominent numeral appears on each spread. Berkes’ verses are as singable as ever, but the artwork just doesn’t match that of previous books in the series: Jill Dubin’s atmospheric cut-paper collages and Jeanette Canyon’s amazing polymer clay scenes. By comparison, Morrison’s pictures, which have the fuzzy-edged and indistinct look of digital illustrations, come up short, the spreads sometimes seeming cramped and some of the animals’ expressions off-putting. Backmatter separates fact from fiction, provides further information about each baby animal, describes the seasons on a farm, gives the music and hand motions for the song, and provides activities in the academic areas of math, science, language arts, art, “From Farm to Table,” and movement and music to round out the learning.

While the activities and song will be valuable learning tools, the artwork leaves something to be desired, especially in a series that has previously held such high standards. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58469-548-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dawn Publications

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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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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