As naps go, this is about as strenuous—and as funny—as it gets.

I WILL TAKE A NAP!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Poor Gerald the elephant—all he wants is to take a nap.

A bleary-eyed Gerald blinks out at readers from the cover, blanket and Knuffle bunny tucked in his arms. Piggie’s head pokes into the frame from the side at a 90-degree angle, hinting at the disruption to come. Inside, “I am tired,” Gerald announces. “And cranky. // I am going to take a nap.” Those declarations set off a characteristically hilarious encounter between the fussbudget elephant and his porcine pal. He spreads out his mat, lies down…and in marches Piggie, hollering, “GERALD!” Gerald explodes from slumber in alarm. Readers will not find it at all surprising, though they will find it funny, that pretty soon Gerald’s cranky mood spreads to Piggie, who decides that she will take a nap, too: “SNORE! / SNORE! SNORE! SNORE!” Several pages later, the stertorous swine wakes up, rested and smiling. “How are you enjoying your nap, Gerald?” Beside himself, the elephant rages that he is “NOT napping!”—but if he’s not napping, then how come Piggie is floating? And endowed with a turnip-head? Careful readers will have noticed the change in background color that cues this extended dream sequence—and they may also find themselves wondering whether Gerald could possibly be as rested as he seems when he really wakes up.

As naps go, this is about as strenuous—and as funny—as it gets. (Early reader. 3-9)

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4847-1630-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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Waiting for Godot imagined for the playground population’s sensibilities.

THE ROCK FROM THE SKY

If Samuel Beckett had written an early reader, it might look something like this one.

In the first of five chapters, Klassen places his now-familiar turtle and armadillo (wearing bowler hats) on a minimalist gray/green landscape with one flower and—on the facing page—one plant. Personalities are revealed through occasional, slow movement across the gutter together with color-coded dialogue that feels as if it is being invented in the moment, sans script. Turtle is inflexible, not wanting to relocate, even when Armadillo moves farther away after a bad feeling about the space. It is only when Snake (sporting a beret) appears near the mammal that Turtle joins them—just in time: A huge asteroid falls on the vacated spot. Readers have watched it coming, suspense effectively building as they turn the pages. In subsequent episodes, Armadillo attempts to be helpful; miscommunication abounds; and Turtle is stubborn, proud, and jealous of the unspeaking snake, now near the rock: “I see how it is. Just enough room for two.” Turtle playing the martyr: “Maybe I will never come back.” As daylight turns into a striking, rose-tinged sunset and then a starlit evening, a life-zapping extraterrestrial (created previously in Armadillo’s futuristic forest fantasy) stalks Turtle. At the last minute, a second asteroid annihilates the creature. Klassen’s animals react to their seemingly absurd—but never tragic—universe with characteristically subtle, humorous postures and eye maneuvers. The weirdness of it all exerts its own attractive force, drawing readers back to it to wonder and ponder.

Waiting for Godot imagined for the playground population’s sensibilities. (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1562-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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