A promising start dissolves to an undetermined, unsatisfying conclusion.

READ REVIEW

LITTLE BROWN

A cranky dog faces the consequences of his crankiness in this picture book.

Author/illustrator Frazee’s pencil and gouache illustrations show a cranky, scowling brown dog—Little Brown—sitting alone against the chain-link fence of a bare-bones dog park. The hand-lettered text is a subtle touch, infusing a friendly warmth into the physical look of the words, and the illustrations are done in a warm, muted palette, and readers may subconsciously begin to hope that with all this visual warmth, Little Brown will find playmates at last. It’s not that he doesn’t have plenty of opportunity—there are many other dogs in the park. So when a ball rolls his way and Little Brown grabs it, this looks like the beginning of the end of Little Brown’s isolation and crankiness. But he then decides to grab the other toys, and in a jiffy, he’s collected a whole pile and stands on top of them, like a dragon hoarding treasure. Now there is a “dilemma.” The dogs wonder if they should play with Little Brown in order to get their toys back (or would that make them cranky too?), and Little Brown wonders if he gives it all back, will they play with him, and what if they don’t? Weirdly, this dilemma remains unresolved, leaving readers to continue the pondering: It becomes time to go and “maybe tomorrow / they would know what to do.”

A promising start dissolves to an undetermined, unsatisfying conclusion. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2522-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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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