Wearing its heart on its sleeve, this story has a mission, but it’s a worthy one.

THE FORGOTTEN RABBIT

Bella the rabbit narrates this earnest story about caring for pet rabbits in the home.

Bella was born in a barn on a farm, part of a huge family of bunnies. The farmer sells the baby bunnies to a pet store, where a brother and sister choose Bella as an Easter present. The children play with Bella at first, but then they lose interest in her, and her cage is left outside without adequate food or water. Another girl, Rosalita, rescues Bella and takes her to a much better life in her house. Rosalita quickly wins Bella’s affection and then teaches her how to use play equipment in a rabbit-sized obstacle course. They go on to participate in a competition course with other rabbits, and Bella wins a ribbon for her performance. Though Bella’s transformation from nervous victim to confident performer is unrealistically fast, her story is touching and draws attention to the plight of unwanted pets purchased without adequate planning and preparation. Pleasant illustrations in candy-bright colors make Bella an appealing character, though she sometimes seems more like a toy bunny than a real rabbit. An author’s note gives more information about pet house rabbits and lists additional resources.

Wearing its heart on its sleeve, this story has a mission, but it’s a worthy one. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-940719-19-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Gryphon Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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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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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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