A sweet celebration of the imagination.

ELEPHANTASTIC

Inattention results in a potential domestic tragedy in this German import.

Andrew is so busy drawing a treasure map, he really does not hear what Mommy says about delivering the package in the hall to their upstairs neighbors. So when he finally gets to the package, he figures it is for him and opens it. It’s a large stuffed elephant! Its name is Timbo, and it speaks to him! They immediately go on many adventures: climbing mountains, hiking through jungles and dancing in the valleys. This is all illustrated in double-page, full-bleed spreads in which the furniture and artifacts in Andrew’s home transmute themselves into mountains and jungles and valleys, just as they do in children’s play everywhere. When Mommy finds Andrew, she tells him gently that the package was meant for Louise upstairs. Louise is delighted to get her present, but Andrew is heartbroken to leave Timbo behind. His melancholy is solved very neatly when a barefoot Louise comes downstairs to announce that Timbo misses Andrew, and the three have adventures together. Browns and golds dominate the pictures, and children and elephant have button-dot eyes and, for the children, comma noses. Perhaps in keeping with this aesthetic, the faux–hand-lettered type is, unfortunately, small. The household is as much a character as the stuffie and kids, its cozy accoutrements overlaid with Andrew’s (and Timbo’s) imaginations.

A sweet celebration of the imagination. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4413-0841-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peter Pauper Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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