Barnyard high jinks that won’t be to everyone’s taste (especially turkeys).

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BAA BAA SMART SHEEP

Smart sheep? More like smartypants sheep.

In this story told almost entirely in dialogue, Little Baa Baa is bored, but then Quirky Turkey comes along. They comment on the nice day. Then Quirky Turkey comments on a pile of round, brown somethings next to Little Baa Baa. When the fowl inquires about them, Little Baa Baa says they are “smarty tablets.” Smarty tablets “make you smarter.” When Quirky Turkey asks about the price, Little Baa Baa says they are “free…but only to turkeys.” Inspecting the tablets closely, Quirky Turkey says they look like poo. And they smell like poo. “ ‘Are you sure they’re not just poo?’ / ‘Smarty tablets?’ / ‘Yes, smarty tablets.’ ‘Like these ones?’ / ‘Like those ones.’ / ‘That you eat?’ / ‘That you eat.’ / ‘That are free?’ / ‘That are free.’ / ‘…but only to turkeys.’ / ‘I’m a turkey!’ / ‘Then why don’t you help yourself?’ ” Quirky Turkey does and of course discovers they are poo and exclaims in disgust. Little Baa Baa crows: “See, you’re getting smarter already!” The Sommersets’ tale of sheep mischief (there’s a warning on the cover that the book contains such) is an amusing read-aloud, particularly if the dialogue is exploited to its full effect. Every storytimer will giggle at the mention of poo, though their adults may be revolted. The earth-toned, pencil illustrations bring Mo Willems’ Pigeon books to mind, but that’s where the similarities end.

Barnyard high jinks that won’t be to everyone’s taste (especially turkeys). (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8066-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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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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