THE THREE BILLY GOATS GRUFF

A classic fairy tale gets a facelift, with collage illustrations and a delightful repetitive phrase sure to rouse smiles. For these three brothers, the grass is greener on the other side of the bridge. So the littlest one sets out to cross the bridge, the home of the fearsome troll: “I’m a troll, from a deep dark hole, / My belly’s getting thinner. / I need to eat—and goat’s a treat— / So I’ll have you for my dinner.” As usual, the goat escapes, but only by extolling the virtues of his bigger brother. The second brother goes through the same scenario. Both brothers are now eating the greener grass on the other side of the bridge. But what excuse will the biggest goat give to the troll? There are no bigger goats than he. So he simply kicks him into next week and trots across the bridge. Using textured paper, Arenson (Manu and the Talking Fish, not reviewed, etc.) has created a wonderfully gruesome troll, complete with long nose topped with green wart, wild spiked hair, orange teeth, and purple toenails. He fairly pops off the page, but unfortunately, the rest of her collaged illustrations are comparatively two-dimensional—the bright pink, yellow, and blue seem flatter by contrast. Still, this perky, new—and less violent—edition will delight readers in their traditional quest for the greenest grass. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-84148-349-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Barefoot

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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Hee haw.

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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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