Not as simpatico as Frog and Toad nor as clever as Amelia Bedelia but useful for skill development.



From the Kid and the Chameleon series

Social and science lessons disguised in an early reader.

In this series opener, Tessy, a self-absorbed girl, meets a chameleon named Newton. She wants to be friends, but only on her terms. Newton is not so sure—especially when Tessy expects him to act like a kid. The conflicts continue through five chapters. “Jars are not [his] thing”; “picnics are not [his] thing,” either. But “rock sitting” and changing colors are not her things. Sometimes the problem is language; sometimes the problem is because they are different species. Eventually, they find something they can enjoy together: watching the sun set and the moon rise. The second book in the series, The Kid and the Chameleon Sleepover (published simultaneously), gives readers six further chapters about the conflicting views of these improbable friends. Kids who can get past the heavy-handed message about respecting differences will benefit from the practice reading short sentences (often of just one or two words) with predictable parallel structures and simple repetitive vocabulary. Five to 10 lines of text per page are set in a large, well-leaded serif typeface against mostly white backgrounds dotted with full-color illustrations. A final page of “Chameleon Facts” explains the science alluded to in the story. Tessy has beige skin and fluffy, brown hair.

Not as simpatico as Frog and Toad nor as clever as Amelia Bedelia but useful for skill development. (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-4179-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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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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