This fails to either ask kids to do the math or truly entertain.



A little girl and her talking dog use addition and subtraction to plan a birthday party in this Korean import.

Ruffer’s birthday is in four days, and Nora, an Asian girl with freckles, and her pup are busily preparing. First the invitations—11 for Nora’s three friends and their pets: 3+6+2=11. Then the waiting; subtraction helps Ruffer keep track of how many days are left. A shortage of eggs sends Nora and Ruffer to the store, where they use subtraction to determine sale prices. Finally it’s party time, and more arithmetic is used to add up gifts and determine the winner of ring toss. Backmatter links math to the real world and teaches readers a (unexciting) math game. A final spread presents a few more math problems, answers filled in. In all, the story is too long and involved to really serve as a quick math lesson, as Michael Garland does so well in How Many Mice? (2007), and it lacks the humor and energy of Ethan Long’s The Wing Wing Brothers Math Spectacular! (2012) or Caroline Stills’ Mice Mischief, illustrated by Judith Rossell (2014). Spot and spread artwork adequately portrays the math but doesn’t do much to extend the story, and the characters sometimes just look awkward. Observant children who have experience shopping also may raise eyebrows at the prices in the store.

This fails to either ask kids to do the math or truly entertain. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-939248-06-0

Page Count: 38

Publisher: TanTan

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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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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