The mean streets may have never looked so clean, but it still takes pluck and courage to survive them.

READ REVIEW

PIZZA MOUSE

From the I Like To Read series

For a New York City mouse, hazards abound—but also delicious discoveries.

Garland knocks the rougher edges off an incident featuring an ambitious rat and a whole slice of pizza that was caught in a viral 2015 video clip. Sporting a tough-guy chip on his diminutive shoulder (“I am a mouse. So what?”), this nonetheless cute, fuzzy forager has four legs but anthropomorphically scurries around on two. He pithily tallies his many foes as he roots through piles of garbage, snatches a roll from a table of elegant diners, takes shelter from a swooping hawk in a used pizza box, and finally drags the cheesy treasure he finds therein down subway steps and through a crowd of oblivious commuters to present it to a squad of nestlings. “Daddy!” they exclaim. Along with downsizing his protagonist and giving him a family to feed, Garland does such an awful job of depicting urban grime that even the worst food waste looks not just yummy, but artistically displayed. Still, though the setting may be caricatured, the thoroughly diverse human cast, even its Asian members, is not, and he offers an affectionate ankle-level view of the city’s general hurly-burly.

The mean streets may have never looked so clean, but it still takes pluck and courage to survive them. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3761-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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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