Not nearly as fresh as Yours Sincerely, Giraffe but not a total bust, either.



Building upon Yours Sincerely, Giraffe (2017), Professor Whale organizes an Olympics.

Author Iwasa sets her story at Whale Point, with Professor Whale as the protagonist (although now he is retired, he would really like to be called the more casual “Whaley” or “Big Blue”). When Professor Whale sends out many letters via Seal in his attempt to follow Giraffe’s lead from the first book and discover new animals in the world, his only answer is from Wally, a young whale who lives at Otto Island—a disappointment, as Professor Whale was expecting a letter from an animal he wouldn’t normally meet. Turns out, though, Wally is the grandson of an old friend of Professor Whale’s who moved away in the big migration. Wally mentions an Olympics held long ago at Whale Point, at which his grandfather won a silver medal, and Professor Whale is inspired to organize another one. This part is delightfully silly, since the events are: a seal swimming race, a penguin walking race, and a whale spouting contest. Overall, though, the story labors to sparkle, mostly because it’s so predictable—even many of Takabatake’s black-and-white spot illustrations lack pizzazz. The story’s theme of friendship plays out in regular helpings of goodness on the parts of the characters, and while kindness and friendship are wonderful things, a bit of spice is nice too. 

Not nearly as fresh as Yours Sincerely, Giraffe but not a total bust, either. (Fantasy. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-776572-06-9

Page Count: 104

Publisher: Gecko Press

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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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Cool beans indeed.


A supposed “has-bean” shows that coolness has more to do with deeds than demeanor.

Offering further moral instruction in this leguminous cousin to The Bad Seed (2017) and The Good Egg (2019), Oswald portrays three beans—each a different species but all sporting boss shades, fly threads, and that requisite air of nonchalance—bringing the cool to streets, hallways, playgrounds, and Leguma Beach. Meanwhile, a fourth (a scraggly-haired chickpea), whose efforts to echo the look and the ’tude have fallen flat, takes on the role of nerdy narrator to recall “olden days” when they all hung out in the same pod. Still, despite rolling separate ways (nobody’s fault: “That’s just how it is sometimes. You spend less time together, even though you’re not totally sure why”), when the uncool bean drops a lunch tray, skins a kid knee on the playground, or just needs a hint in class, one of the others is always on the scene toot suite. No biggie. And passing those casual acts of kindness forward? “Now that’s cool.” John’s good-hearted text makes some hay with the bean puns while Oswald’s pipe-stemmed limbs, googly eyes, and accessories give these anthropomorphic legumes lots of personality. As a fava to young audiences, pair with Jamie Michalak and Frank Kolar’s Frank and Bean (2019) for a musical combination.

Cool beans indeed. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-295452-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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