While Jelly’s tales go on a bit too long, her skills and the story’s action-packed ending, however implausible, reward...

PART-TIME LION TRAINER

From the Princess Angelica series , Vol. 2

Angelica, nicknamed Jelly, uses her storytelling abilities to avert a crisis at the animal-rescue center where her parents serve on the board.

Jelly has known Mwezi, a lioness rescued from Tanzania, all her life, and she amazes her friend Joon with her ability to get Mwezi’s attention. When a new boy named Leopold shows up looking to write a story for his school newspaper and asks Jelly if she’s a lion trainer, Jelly can’t resist the temptation to become just that for the day. Her friend Joon believes her too, and as she uses her vast knowledge of lions for support, Jelly’s “stories” become more and more elaborate. Leopold grows skeptical as Jelly gets “swept away”; “Joon is a better audience because she believes all my stories,” Jelly tells her readers. But when Mwezi goes missing, Joon’s insistence that Jelly is handy and knows how to call Mwezi earns Jelly a spot on the search team. When they find her, Jelly’s handiness and her storytelling both help lead Mwezi back to her enclosure. Similarly imaginative chapter-book readers will connect with Jelly, and there’s no question the lion facts are cool. Full- and half-page illustrations throughout the book suggest that Jelly is mixed-race, Joon is Asian, and Leopold and other characters are white.

While Jelly’s tales go on a bit too long, her skills and the story’s action-packed ending, however implausible, reward readers who stay tuned. (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1547-6

Page Count: 104

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 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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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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