Recalling both the ingenuity of Oliver Jeffers’ Stuck (2011) and the sense of foreboding in Chris Van Allsburg’s Jumanji...

READ REVIEW

THE BOY AND THE AIRPLANE

In this wordless title, a tousled boy in overalls receives a present that changes his life. 

The opening depicts the protagonist holding the box on the recto; his gaze follows a leg disappearing from the verso. Once unwrapped, the red ink of the new toy—the titular airplane—contrasts with the muted, lightly flecked, taupe, green and gray backgrounds. Pacing is controlled through subtle changes in these colors, modulating from four varied, vertical panels on a page to unified double-page spreads. After cavorting with a curious bird (which remains a comforting presence throughout), the child launches the plane and watches it land on the roof. Neither ladder, lasso, pogo stick, nor hose offers a solution, but inspiration falls from a tree in the form of a maple seed “helicopter.” The boy plants the seed next to the house, and decades pass; finally, the tree’s growth allows retrieval. The now-plump, bearded man revels in his toy once again but then pauses, reflectively. The narrative comes full circle as he exits empty-handed stage right, while a girl across the gutter holds a present. 

Recalling both the ingenuity of Oliver Jeffers’ Stuck (2011) and the sense of foreboding in Chris Van Allsburg’s Jumanji (1981), Pett’s winsome caricatures enact a quietly provocative drama certain to raise questions about the value of patience, the burden of ownership and the ethics related to this instance of “re-gifting.” (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: April 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-5123-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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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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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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