SEED MAGIC

From the Spider Series series

Seasons come and go, and two unlikely friends help the garden prosper.

In a quiet corner, a shy spider listens, tucked in a comfy leaf. Leaves rustle in the wind, the garden tap drip, drip, drips, and high in a tree the owl family hoots (“Twit-twoo”). This is Little Spider’s life day after day. One morning, she hears “Hurry, scurry, worry-worry,” and the sound keeps her from falling asleep. It’s Anxious Ant, rushing around to finish preparations for winter. Tolland gives readers a glimpse underground, where Ant is collecting piles of seeds. “Hurry, scurry, worry-worry,” is its refrain. Little Spider worries that there won’t be any seeds aboveground in the spring, but Anxious Ant says he’s too busy to think about that. Winter is coming! Little Spider offers a trade; she will spin a warm, silky scarf for Anxious Ant in exchange for five seeds. Their friendship is forged. In the spring, with help from sunshine and rain, the seeds sprout into delicate seedlings that, in time, grow into juicy fruit. In the autumn, the unpicked fruit falls to the ground and bursts open, revealing more seeds! Anxious Ant is amazed. He learns not to hoard the seeds but save only a few. That’s all he needs. McKinnon’s ecologically minded tale unfolds with a gentleness that’s in perfect harmony with her lesson. Tolland’s beautiful illustrations do not anthropomorphize her characters but invest them with personality nonetheless; Little Spider’s garden is indeed a lovely one.

Sublime. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-76036-031-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Starfish Bay

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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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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