“Yummy” may be highly subjective, but friendship is transcendent.

I REALLY LIKE SLOP!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

“Pigs really, really, really, really, really like slop!”

In fact, “eating slop is part of pig culture,” so when Gerald the elephant turns up his trunk at best friend Piggie’s reeking, green bowlful (“The flies are how you know it is ripe!”), she takes it very personally. Seeing her devastation, Gerald steels himself to “try a small taste,” using his trunk to transfer a tiny globule to a very reluctant tongue. A comedic four-page sequence ensues, in which Gerald’s disgust is dramatized with very un-elephantlike coloration, contortions, and many repetitions of “Urk!” (Turns out old shoes are the secret ingredient.) Willems exploits his audience’s familiarity with the beloved characters to deliver a humorous update of Green Eggs and Ham, combining it with a message about not just friendship and trying new things, but cross-cultural understanding. With cultural awareness an ever more prominent element of school curricula, it’s likely kids will understand it immediately. Picky eaters will see themselves in Gerald, and they will appreciate his bravery and generosity of spirit. Once he’s tasted it, Gerald confesses that he does not particularly like slop, but he’s glad he tried it: “Because I really like you,” he tells a pleased Piggie.

“Yummy” may be highly subjective, but friendship is transcendent. (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2262-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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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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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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