“I like to share…. / It makes me happy deep inside.” To amuse and instruct, one could do a lot worse than Wright and...



Big Bear, after a few false starts, remembers to share the fare.

Hillenbrand’s Big Bear has a burly belly, which surely came from somewhere. As Big Bear is in the process of chowing down a galvanized trash can full of deep indigo berries, readers will quickly figure out that puzzle. It so happens that other creatures of the forest share Big Bear’s interest in food, though he is too oblivious to share his stock, his eyes closed in berry joy. An old oak—drawn by Hillenbrand as an amiably imperial presence with a shock of limbs like Einstein’s hair—feels that Big Bear needs to jump-start his social graces. “Branches shook on the old oak tree. / A deep, low voice said, ‘Listen to me.... / ‘Share, Big Bear, share!’ ” Maybe it is because Tree’s voice is both deep and low, but Big Bear misunderstands repeatedly (as the refrain goes, “He didn’t pay attention like a good bear should”). He thinks Tree said “hair.” So he slicks his fur back and goes on munching. Tree repeats, Big Bear mishears. Lair, chair, scare (“Big Bear knew just what to do. / He jumped in the air and yelled out, ‘BOO!’ ”). Finally, Tree breaks through the earwax. “How could I forget to share? / Come, everyone, / there are berries to spare!” It is refreshing—like those berries on a hot summer day—that Big Bear has just been in a swoon of delight and not a piggy-wiggy who needed a mindful slap on the wrist, though he does blush a little.

“I like to share…. / It makes me happy deep inside.” To amuse and instruct, one could do a lot worse than Wright and Hillenbrand’s bear and old oak. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2017


Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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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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