Fans will be looking for Zack’s parting words to Bridget to come true: “We’ll have more fun soon.” (Early reader. 4-8)



Zack and his alligator, Bridget, have a wintry adventure in this early reader.

When grown-ups aren’t around, Zack’s alligator key chain comes alive, à la Calvin and Hobbes, and grows to life size whenever she gets wet. In this latest imaginative romp, Bridget experiences snow for the first time. She and Zack make a new friend in a little girl they meet, and the trio makes snow angels (and gators), goes sledding and—hysterically—manages to escape being spotted by Zack’s parents. Hungry, Bridget lets her nose lead her to the ice, where she gobbles down every fish she sees—it’s no wonder that Zack’s ice-fishing parents come up empty-handed at the end of the day. Watts’ softly-colored illustrations reflect the joy and exuberance that snow brings, while Bridget’s innocence is charming: She seems a mix of Frosty the Snowman and Amelia Bedelia in what she doesn’t know. Her comparisons to what she is familiar with from her native Florida will provoke giggles (each snowflake is different, “[l]ike the snails and slugs in the Glades”). Simple sentences and vocabulary and a lively story make this just right for developing readers.

Fans will be looking for Zack’s parting words to Bridget to come true: “We’ll have more fun soon.” (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-147370-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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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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