SWIFT

Swift is a working dog, who helps Johnnie’s Pa hunt and stay safe in the woods. One day, Johnnie finally gets to join in on a bear hunt. Things quickly go awry when a bear attacks and Pa breaks his leg badly; he tells Johnnie to take Swift and get help. The boy runs off in such a panic, he nearly goes over a cliff; luckily, Swift stops him. They get lost, the bear attacks and Swift comes to help. Johnnie nearly gives up when he falls into a frozen lake. However, though Swift is injured, he’s still intent on achieving his goal. The bear attacks again and Johnnie is able to save them both. Unconscious for some time, Johnnie later learns that Swift led folks to his Pa as well as rescuing Johnnie. While the story (based on tales learned while the author was staying with homesteaders in Alaska) is interesting and will appeal to youngsters looking for an adventure, the pictures are what stand out. Blake applies the paint very thickly in the illustrations, using so much color that the paintings look almost Impressionistic, though, the human faces don’t work as well as the incredibly expressive animal faces. Swift has a most noble countenance. Blake illustrates winter scenes but manages to make the snowy landscape full of color and vibrancy. He depicts a winter landscape both ominous and beautiful. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-399-23383-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2007

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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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