Children aren’t likely to need the instruction, but the validation may be helpful to counter imagination-repressing parents...

I'M A FROG

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Piggie teaches her pachyderm pal to pretend. Considering that this is their 20th outing, Elephant seems a little slow on the uptake, but he sees the light eventually.

Hopping around her bewildered buddy with many a “Ribbet!” Piggie explains, “I was a pig. Now I am a frog.” Gerald the elephant panics, thinking that he too might be transformed at any moment; there’s all that hopping, and as for eating flies—! Piggie goes on to explain just what “pretending” is all about. Stunned—“And you can just do that?!” —and assured that even grown-ups pretend, Elephant resists Piggie’s invitation to join her in the game. A characteristically hilarious spread depicts the two in heated debate, Piggie’s seven pink speech balloons (“Yes you can!”) tangling with Elephant’s eight gray ones (“No, I can’t!”). But he’s got the last laugh, going on to let out a mighty “MOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Cue the animal concert. As ever, Willems gives figures drawn with elemental simplicity and broadly expressed reactions just a few, but often very large, dialogue words to tell the tale.

Children aren’t likely to need the instruction, but the validation may be helpful to counter imagination-repressing parents or older sibs . (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8305-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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