A heartfelt debut.

READ REVIEW

THE CROW'S TALE

Colorful and eye-catching artwork accompanies this rhyming story of bravery and kindness.

It is winter, and seemingly never-ending snow has covered the land where the animals live. Filled with tedium and frozen to the bone, the animals decide on a plan: their bravest one should embark on a journey to bring the Sun’s warmth to provide them heat. They choose Rainbow Crow, with “radiant feathers and sweet singing voice,” to “battle through ice, wind, and snow.” The courageous crow flies toward the Sun and begs for relief; the Sun gives him a burning branch to take back to land, but its soot turns his feathers black. The crow is despondent, but the other animals convince him that his good deed is evidence that his “beauty inside is the heart of the matter.” Although a specific source is not stated, debut Scottish author/illustrator Howarth tells readers that this is a “tale that has been passed down through generations of Lenni Lenape Indians, mostly orally.” The rhyming text is mostly just serviceable; the book’s forte is the outstanding multimedia illustrations that combine lithography and watercolors. Their pastel palette really brings home the warmth of the story she tells and underscores its message: that bravery and kindness are beautiful things in themselves.

A heartfelt debut. (Picture book/folk tale. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-84780-614-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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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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