An informative and entertaining tale of an intriguing location and a warm family relationship.



In this Canadian import, a girl spends the summer with her grandmother on an island in the Pacific Northwest.

The evocative story is told from the first-person point of view of the unnamed girl, who appears to be 10 or 11. She spends each summer with Gran at her cozy log cabin on an island in the Salish Sea, which is the collective name of the waterways of coastal British Columbia and Washington state. Lovely, atmospheric watercolor illustrations show the girl and her grandmother spending idyllic weeks together exploring the beach, gardening, fishing, and cooking. The child visits their neighbor, Joe, who is carving an eagle on a cedar totem pole. He tells the girl stories and speaks about eagles, explaining that you must earn an eagle feather in order to keep one. In both the U.S. and Canada, ownership of eagle feathers is legal only for Indigenous people, opening the door for readers to see Joe and possibly the girl and her grandmother as Canadian First Nations people. The girl and her grandmother have golden-tan skin and brown hair; Joe has reddish-tan skin and graying black hair. The story unfolds with a calm, peaceful tone, indicating the secure relationship between granddaughter and grandmother and the reassuring certainty of annual traditions in a protected environment. Several terms in the text are not well defined, such as jigging for fish, “midden,” and “petroglyph.” A glossary and map and a clear indication of whether or not the characters are Indigenous people would have improved the accessibility of the story.

An informative and entertaining tale of an intriguing location and a warm family relationship. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1345-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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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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