The heavy-handed lesson and underdeveloped characters hinder this picture book’s attempt to convey a positive message.

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THE WOLF WHO LEARNED SELF-CONTROL

From the Wolf Who . . . series

Wolf—the star of several picture books originally published in France—has many forest friends, but his inability to regulate his emotions interferes with his relationships.

Wolf’s friends decide to instruct him in various self-management techniques, hoping he’ll learn self-control. His first lesson is yoga, which he finds to be quite funny. Next he tries both exercise and baking. When his female love interest (the unfortunately named Wolfette) makes a good-natured joke at his expense, he explodes in anger and calls his friends hurtful names. Later, when building a house, Wolf makes a mistake and is on the verge of a meltdown. He remembers his initial yoga class and uses the techniques he learned to calm down. After this one instance of successful self-management, Wolf’s friends celebrate and praise his transformation. The emotions Wolf experiences on his journey, such as fear, pride, jealousy, and shame, are noted in boldface text. The emphasis on naming feelings and the acknowledgement that different self-management techniques can be effective for different personalities are highlights. Unfortunately, the overall story is clunky. While this title would serve as a good tool for an explicit social-emotional–learning lesson, as a general read, the overall effect is lackluster at best.

The heavy-handed lesson and underdeveloped characters hinder this picture book’s attempt to convey a positive message. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-2-7338-6147-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Auzou Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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