Fans of these sweet squirrels will devour this highly a-peel-ing volume.


From the Norma and Belly series , Vol. 2

Four brown squirrels have an accidental adventure at an apple farm.

When wiry, glasses-wearing Gramps is accidentally transported to the Crunchy Acres Apple-Processing Plant due to a snafu at the farmers market, it’s up to triangular Norma, thimble-shaped Belly, and peanut-shaped Little Bee to save the day. The trio is nothing if not resourceful, recruiting a friendly pigeon and the unnamed donut-truck operator from series opener Donut Feed the Squirrels (2020) to find them information about the apple farm and hitching a ride on a school bus that is taking kids to a field trip there. Arriving at Crunchy Acres, they must dodge apple-corers and outsmart factory line workers to find Gramps. Once reunited, the quartet makes it safely out of the apple factory intact only to realize they have landed in a pie at a pie-eating contest! Luckily they are rescued by Helen, an Asian-presenting student from the field trip, and all is well. Song’s quiet illustration style is consistently engaging but never overstimulating, featuring a natural watercolor palette, soft lines, and plenty of white space. Human characters, all secondary or background, come in a range of racial presentations and body shapes.

Fans of these sweet squirrels will devour this highly a-peel-ing volume. (Graphic fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984895-85-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Random House Graphic

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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Hee haw.

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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


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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