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OUTFOXED

A goose egg.

Cartoonist Twohy delivers lackluster laughs in this tale of a clever duck and not-too-bright fox.

The story opens with confusingly scriptlike narration (without the benefit of a stage/screen setup) as a cloaked fox breaks into a chicken coop. Without looking, Fox grabs a hen and runs (strangely, on all fours, despite wearing a trench coat and sneakers on his find feet). Readers may be confused as to why Fox is on the run, but a page turn reveals the guard dogs on his tail. The thick-lined, comic book–esque illustrations depict Fox making a narrow escape and arriving home to discover he mistakenly bagged a duck. But Duck is not resigned to be dinner and goes about attempting to convince Fox that she is a dog in a protracted pantomime. Unsure, Fox tries to trick Duck into revealing her true nature and fails, returning Duck to her home the following day. Just as Fox returns to his den and begins to regret having given up a potential pet, he discovers his mistake. While this book may elicit laughs, the choppy pacing, grammatical shortcuts and confusing lack of direction as to what should be read first on a given page (the narration or the speech/thought bubbles?) will make for difficult read-alouds.

A goose egg. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7392-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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. 28, 2018

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WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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