An attractive visual presentation complements an engaging text for a fresh interpretation of an old theme.

READ REVIEW

BABY WREN AND THE GREAT GIFT

A little bird explores her environment, meeting other creatures with special talents before discovering her own.

The baby wren is first seen alone in her nest, but she soon hops out and meets other birds, animals, and fish. To the tiny bird, the soaring kingfisher and eagles, splashing sunfish, and cartwheeling ring-tailed cats are amazing and accomplished, doing spectacular things that astonish a naïve little bird. In classic find-your-own-talent fashion, the baby wren is then so inspired by a glowing, pink sunrise that she is moved to sing her own song, which can be heard all over the canyon. The lyrical text uses rich, poetic imagery along with judicious repetition to create a memorable setting for the little bird’s exploratory journey. A large format and double-page-spread illustrations in jewel tones make the canyon setting appealing, though the bird is sometimes dwarfed by the expansive vistas. When the baby wren finds her own voice, she offers a big, open-ended thank you for everything in her world. There is no overt religious content in the text, though there is a short quotation on the front cover flap referring to prayer and a brief quote on the back cover flap from Martin Luther about the power of song.

An attractive visual presentation complements an engaging text for a fresh interpretation of an old theme. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-310-73389-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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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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