This debut’s imaginative premise leads to intermittent flashes of wit and quirky humor, but promising material is left...

THE NOT-A-PIG

From the Mango & Bambang series

A lonely girl befriends the terrified tapir she finds stranded in a big, busy city.

Mango Allsorts can leap from the high diving board, do karate kicks, and apply the Sicilian defense in chess (mastering the clarinet remains a work in progress). The pale-skinned, black-haired girl cooks buttered noodles for her father when he’s had an especially trying day. Returning home from her karate lesson one day, she finds traffic at a standstill because a curled-up tapir is lying in the crosswalk. Mango scolds the clueless onlookers, then invites him home with her for banana pancakes. His name is Bambang, and fleeing a tiger has led him far from home. Friendship blossoms: they jump from a high dive; she loses and finds him more than once; they encounter an unscrupulous Collector of the Unusual. The droll and lively opening raises expectations that remain largely unfulfilled. Lessons are learned as Mango and Bambang trade parent and child roles. The story shifts between their points of view, with occasional interruptions from the intrusive narrator, who asks readers irrelevant, uninteresting questions (“What is your nearest public pool like?”), deflating the effervescent fantasy with ho-hum realism and plodding didacticism. Yet readers will learn more about tapirs from the ample, expressive illustrations than the text. Portraying the pair as a charming duo, the art lightens the tone and provides consistency lacking elsewhere.

This debut’s imaginative premise leads to intermittent flashes of wit and quirky humor, but promising material is left unexplored. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8226-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 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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