Folklore invitingly told and presented for a young audience.

THE RAVEN AND THE LOON

Irrepressible trickster Raven gets his comeuppance when he annoys his friend Loon in a humorous tale based on Inuit folklore.

Both Raven and Loon were once unremarkably cloaked in plain white feathers—“stuck without colour,” according to the tale. Severely bored by the plainness of his plumage, Raven approaches the more staid Loon and suggests that they help each other improve their looks. Raven is clever and artistic, and he does a lovely job with Loon’s feathers. But following his success, Raven becomes so twitchy, chatty and annoying that he provokes Loon, who prides herself on her craft, to irritation. The unfortunate result involves a stone lamp full of soot and has consequences for the pair that can be seen to this day. The exchange is very funny—the Qitsualik-Tinsleys ably distill the essence of Raven’s impulsive and incorrigible verbosity. The rhythms of the story hint at the voice of the storytellers and also translate well to the printed page—easy to read, compact and punchy. Smith’s cover and title pages are striking—spiky feathers for Raven and smoother ones for Loon, along with deep blues that hint at a kind of arctic chill. The interior illustrations are lively and animated, and if a bit more ordinary, they offer a clear visual story for listeners.

Folklore invitingly told and presented for a young audience. (Picture book/folk tale. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-92709-550-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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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