Pure glee.

READ REVIEW

THAT IS NOT A GOOD IDEA!

A new offering of guaranteed laughs from three-time Caldecott-honoree Willems.

From the cover to the cast credits to the title page, the story presents itself as a movie in book form, observed not only by readers, but by a gaggle of excitable goslings. The action begins when a dapper fox and a plump goose meet—successfully establishing the field of a traditional tale. Dialogue between the characters, showcased as ornately framed white text against a page-filling black background, harkens back to the design of silent films. Double-page spreads picture an increasing number of goslings gazing out at readers and admonishing, “That is NOT a good idea!” as the wide-eyed goose follows the fox from the city to his home in the woods. The goslings’ antics grow progressively frantic—and hilarious—as their warnings increase in intensity. The climax proves that appearances can be deceiving, as the anticipated conclusion is turned on its head. Using signature bold lines, Willems’ illustrations are as satisfyingly expressive and comic as his previous work featuring fowl (his pigeon makes a cameo appearance here, though not an obvious one). Exceptionally observant readers may anticipate the twist, but that won’t spoil the enjoyment of this fun-loving fractured fable. Minimal text makes this book ideal for read-alouds and discussions of fable and fairy-tale motifs.

Pure glee. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-220309-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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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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