A story that sacrifices facts for drama about creatures that have lived on Earth since the dinosaurs (a fact readers won’t...


A picture book that presents some information about crocodiles.

The book begins: “If there’s one thing you should know about crocodiles, it’s that they’re really scary.” And that does crocodiles a huge disservice. While the story does present some crocodile facts—crocodile mothers build nests of leaves and lay between 40 and 60 eggs; crocodiles don’t need to eat that often—the bulk of the story focuses on how crocodiles sneak up on their prey and eat them. Author Jenkins’ tone is conversational and droll, but the dry humor doesn’t outweigh the story’s fearmongering (“waiting for something—or even somebody—to come down to drink”). It’s hard to know what purpose this serves, other than developing in readers a fear of the natural world. Kitamura’s mixed-media illustrations, featuring large, toothy crocodiles that sprawl, side-to, across double-page spreads, are largely redundant. Sometimes the crocodile faces left, sometimes right. The backmatter offers additional information: There are 16 kinds of crocodiles; the crocodiles featured in the book are saltwater crocodiles. As this is not relayed in the story itself, readers may feel some confusion with basic facts: Do all kinds build nests out of leaves? Do they all lay 40 to 60 eggs? “More Information” lists all of two websites, one last updated in 2012.

A story that sacrifices facts for drama about creatures that have lived on Earth since the dinosaurs (a fact readers won’t find in this book). (index) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7538-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Hee haw.

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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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