Grey brings her hilarious, cartoonish-yet-artful Traction Man sensibilities to this winsome story of the importance of...

HERMELIN THE DETECTIVE MOUSE

It’s a terrible thing for Hermelin to be so cruelly misjudged, especially when the mouse’s single aim is to help the hapless people of Offley Street.

Hermelin is a natural-born detective. So when he discovers the street’s notice board plastered with despairing announcements of lost this or possibly stolen that, he’s on the case. The mouse easily locates Mrs. Mattison’s handbag behind some lettuce in her fridge. He finds Bobo the teddy bear, too, dropped from an attic window into Capt. Potts’ cooling lemon-meringue pie. As he solves each mystery, he leaves an explanatory note signed “Hermelin.” But who is Hermelin? The baffled villagers lure the mysterious hero with a thank-you party at Bosher’s sausage shop. When the little mouse shows up for his big moment, however, the terrified party-givers scream “MOUSE!” How could such a benevolent mouse-detective be perceived as a disease-spreading pest? Hermelin spirals into a full-blown identity crisis, brilliantly captured in nightmarish, comic-book–style panels. All ends well when a girl named Emily sees Hermelin for who he really is. Comical visual details abound, and each stamp-sized window of the Offley Street townhomes is a story in miniature, evoking all the wonder and delight of an advent calendar.

Grey brings her hilarious, cartoonish-yet-artful Traction Man sensibilities to this winsome story of the importance of transcending stereotypes, especially when it comes to mouse detectives. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-75433-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 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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