Ultimately more about highlighting the culture of Nunavut than learning any life lessons, but it’s still a cute story...



Inuit author Mike (Leah’s Mustache Party, 2016) channels her northern roots in this lighthearted parable of mismatched friendship.

Ukaliq is a high-energy Arctic hare who is always up for a new adventure. Kalla is a fastidious lemming who plans ahead and prefers staying cozy at home. When Ukaliq invites Kalla out for a day of fishing he is impatient to get started. In his haste Ukaliq neglects to bring snacks and extra fuel; his impetuousness even hampers his ability to nab any nibbling char. Fortunately, Kalla is patient and thoughtful and helps guide his friend to a successful fishing expedition. Sandland’s watercolor and ink illustrations highlight the different temperaments of the friends (a grumpy Kalla, suffering the effects of Ukaliq’s boisterousness, is priceless) and bring life to the icy northern landscape. In the end it is unclear if Ukaliq has learned anything from the experience, and in fact he seems oblivious to Kalla’s impact on the ultimate success of the outing. This lack of a clear moral seems true to life, if a bit unsatisfying. Apart from this, the text assumes readers have a base knowledge of regional or Inuit terms such as “jerry can” and “qamutiik,” which can inhibit the understanding of outside readers even with context clues in the illustrations.

Ultimately more about highlighting the culture of Nunavut than learning any life lessons, but it’s still a cute story suitable for sharing . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77227-135-5

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

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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


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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