Immensely charming and surprisingly moving, this satisfying adventure story honors nature, freedom, and the ringing bells...

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THE GREAT CHICKEN ESCAPE

Just as the rooster crows and the nun comes to collect their eggs, four chickens fly the coop.

Masterful black-and-white, cut-paper illustrations make the chickens’ narrow escape from a small monastery vivid and their meanderings through an Alaskan forest and coastline magical. An autobiographical note in the frontmatter tell readers this “is a true story, or as close to the truth as [McClure] could ascertain from the chickens themselves, "from her time with “a small group of monastics on Spruce Island, Alaska.” She commemorates the hens’ antics in four sections, whose block-lettered headings make up the book’s only text: “GOOD MORNING, CHICKENS”; “CHICKENS RUN”; “CHICKENS ROAM”; and “CHICKENS GO HOME.” The birds bob as they bolt, their spindly legs and curled feet stretching to cover ground as the nun advances in hot pursuit. Eventually she grabs one and retreats, presumably thinking the remaining three will do what chickens do: come home to roost. Once out of blackberry brambles, however, they (one white, two black chickens) mosey through evergreens and out to a kelp-strewn beach. Assured pictures, wordless, unhurried, expansive in their double-page–spread format, perfectly capture the hush of a grove and the salty, clarifying quality of ocean air.

Immensely charming and surprisingly moving, this satisfying adventure story honors nature, freedom, and the ringing bells inside us that steer us home. (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-944903-22-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Cameron + Company

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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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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