Feels like a TV cartoon with lots of silly action and no real point, but fun nonetheless.

THE GREAT SHEEP SHENANIGANS

A self-deluded wolf is determined to catch a lamb for his supper.

Lou Pine believes that he is wily and sly and much smarter than any sheep. When Rambo the Ram blocks his initial foray into the pasture, insisting that he scram and vamoose, Lou decides that a “sheepy disguise” is the way to success. He tries stealing Ma Watson’s fluffy white gown, getting painted white by a road-marking machine, covering himself in cotton candy and threatening Red Riding Hood’s granny into knitting him a sheep-like sweater. But all his attempts meet with dismal failure and a rather disgusting final reckoning. Bently employs rollicking rhyme at a breakneck pace to tell the goofy tale. The lines are of varying lengths and don’t always scan neatly, but the rhymes are mostly breezy and accessible to young readers. Word selection is quite slangy and might not sit well with adults, especially in Lou’s last adventure, in which he “land[s] kersplat in a big pile of poo!” Of course, little ones will delight in the grossness. The text weaves in and around Matsuoka’s textured, stylized cartoon illustrations, adding greatly to the hilarity. But, strangely, Lou doesn’t even remotely resemble a wolf and really looks like no recognizable animal.

Feels like a TV cartoon with lots of silly action and no real point, but fun nonetheless. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7613-8990-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Andersen Press USA

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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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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