A provocative model of amity.



An affectionate farm cat and a lovable farm dog are the best of friends as youngsters, but as they grow up, they also grow apart.

An affable Chinese farmer narrates the tale. His neighbor gives the narrator and his wife a puppy named Min. Min is friendly with everyone. Rats overrun the farmhouse, so they buy a little cat, named Mu, to deal with that problem. The neighbor opines that Mu and Min can’t possibly get along, but they do, playing hide-and-seek together in the yard and sleeping wrapped around each other. As they grow up, however, they drift into a surly standoff. For a long time, the two always fight, but then something happens that changes everything: while chasing a mouse, Mu falls into a water tank and can’t get out. Min runs for help, and the farmer’s able to save the cat from drowning. From then on, Min and Mu give each other a respectfully wide berth. Now they can learn once again to be friends, the farmer muses. Shen Shixi’s subtle message, presented with a light touch, may elude younger readers, as the resolution does not look like what most kids understand as friendship, but it will leave them thinking about détente. Shen Yuanyuan’s illustrations are offbeat and attractive, featuring solid human figures and plenty of compositional motion and humor.

A provocative model of amity. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-76036-034-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Starfish Bay

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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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


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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