Give this “alphabet caper” an F for Fun.

READ REVIEW

OOPS, POUNCE, QUICK, RUN!

AN ALPHABET CAPER

Leave it to a cartoonist (in this case, a regular contributor to the New Yorker) to cleverly create a picture book–length comic strip out of the alphabet.

A mouse is Asleep in a chair opposite a hole in the wall when a Ball bounces through the hole into his lap. Next, a Dog’s nose pokes through the hole followed by its Feet, and the chase is on! The mouse Jumps, hiding behind a curtain, but his tail gives him away: Oops! Will this end badly? No, the shrewd mouse gives the dog a wrapped present—a new ball. Each letter appears on one page, typically exemplified by just one word (exceptions are I’ll chase, To Dog, Living room, Very Cool) with the capital letter in a colorful type. The simple line drawings of the gray mouse and brown-eared, yellow-furred dog place the two characters front and center against the white backdrop, dramatizing the action and reactions. Some of the word choices are obvious, such as Pounce, Quick, Run, Wag, and only a few are unexpected: Missing, Nowhere, Unwrap, and Xoxo. Twohy could have gone the traditional route of portraying a cat-and-mouse adventure, but using a dog gives the romp relatively more energy and excitement.

Give this “alphabet caper” an F for Fun. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237700-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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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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