Sure to tug the heartstrings, this is a lovely and satisfying tale.

READ REVIEW

TROUPER

Trouper, a three-legged stray dog, narrates the story of his life to his new owner in this compelling, beautifully illustrated book based on a true rescue story.

Although the circumstances of Trouper’s early life are hard, readers feel hope, since they know from the opening lines that he is describing “[b]ack in the before time, / … / before the place you picked me out.” They will be deeply moved by Trouper’s poetic, sensory language and his keen observation; the boys on the street throw stones at the dogs because they “thought the world was mean, / and so they had to be.” In contrast, it is a boy with gentle hands who adopts Trouper after he and his mob are brought to the shelter—but not before Trouper nearly despairs, stating, “My heart was a cold, starless night— // until your face / shone through the bars / like a mini sun.” Lewis’ evocative watercolors capture the stark setting and the scrappy dogs, especially dear, noble Trouper at both his lowest moment and during his rescue—his adoption—secure in the boy’s embrace. After he describes the pleasures of his new home, readers at last see dog and boy running, leaving “five footprints in the snow.”

Sure to tug the heartstrings, this is a lovely and satisfying tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-10041-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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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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