A well-designed, well-written book that offers readers a greater awareness of and sense of relationship to the other...

BENEATH THE SUN

An engaging peek into how various creatures cope with the hottest of days.

Writing simply but informatively, Stewart takes readers through four different environments—a field, a desert, a wetland and a seashore—showing how some of the inhabitants of each cope during the hottest days of the year. Forging a connection with readers, the book begins by showing children in a suburban environment playing in the sprinkler and sipping lemonade. With a page turn, Stewart introduces the next environment, a field, and how some of its inhabitants—a woodchuck, an earthworm, a spittlebug and a caterpillar—cope with the heat. By including the children in the suburb, Stewart positions humans as simply one species of the many that inhabit the Earth—a notable and appropriate perspective. Bergum’s pleasing, realistic watercolor illustrations include front endpapers that show the sunrise and rear endpapers that mirror them with dusk. The suggestion that the story takes place within the time frame of one day encloses it within comfortable confines familiar to all readers—another element that connects children to the subject. The framing of illustrations within the double-page spreads gives readers a sense of spatiality within the environment depicted.

A well-designed, well-written book that offers readers a greater awareness of and sense of relationship to the other inhabitants in their environments. (Informational picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-56145-733-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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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