A manifesto to bridge the deepest chasms of otherness and to melt the stoniest of hearts.

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I JUST LIKE YOU

A sweet celebration of differences.

There’s not a cardigan in sight, but the spirit of Fred Rogers is all over this rhymed chorus of “likes.” “You don’t look just like me. / You don’t see the things I see. / You don’t walk just like me,” but still and all, “You just like me! You just like me!” Bloom suspends pairs and larger groups of anthropomorphic young animals on plain, unmarked white backgrounds for these amicable declarations, and she goes to town on highlighting her figures’ diversity—dressing a gray elephant in a colorfully striped shirt, wrapping a looong scarf around a woolly llama’s looong neck, outfitting an ostrich with pink ruffles and a parasol a-dangle with pompoms, placing a wombat in a wheelchair and a little squirrel atop a tall unicycle. Nor are behavioral differences neglected, as a methodical porcupine (“I like to take my time”) leans over a blank sheet of writing paper while the tiger cub in the next seat (“I’m speedy”) is awash in notes and drawings. Scenes gradually fill up as the author gathers all and sundry together to dance (or shyly watch), to eat, and climactically to read (books printed and handwritten; in English, Danish, and Braille; a map; a sheet of music; a sewing pattern; a blueprint). The mood then calms for a concluding scene of two friends sharing an easy chair with a final: “I just like you! / Yes, I do.

A manifesto to bridge the deepest chasms of otherness and to melt the stoniest of hearts. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62979-878-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

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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