The final joke may fall a little flat, but there is much to enjoy here as two different personalities (and species) form a...

NOBODY'S DUCK

Can a duck who belongs to nobody find a somebody?

An engaging duck paints its toenails while sitting on a lawn and ends up sleeping there too, complete with striped bedcap and stuffed bunny. A suspicious alligator homeowner who has been observing the stranger comes out in the morning and demands to know: “Whose duck are you?” After some thinking, the white waterfowl finally comes up with the unacceptable answer: “I’m nobody’s duck!” The unusual pair sets out on a series of adventures that eventually bring them closer together than their chilly introduction would suggest. The alligator is determined to find out where the duck belongs, inquiring of the library and the giraffe librarian, the movie theater with its porcine cashier, and so on. The animals deny any relationship to the duck, but the alligator finally realizes the exciting changes in a previously lonely, boring life and embraces this new relationship. The minimal text appears in accessible speech balloons that instantly allow “reading” and retelling. The details in the colorful digital illustrations are hilarious. The duck wants to borrow an extremely large stack of books at the library; both animals wear their 3-D glasses in the movies; and the alligator is scared silly in the go-kart.

The final joke may fall a little flat, but there is much to enjoy here as two different personalities (and species) form a new family. (Graphic novel. 4-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-79250-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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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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