MANNY’S COWS

THE NIAGARA FALLS TALE

Inspired by a teacher’s suggestion and weary of the udder sameness of a dairy farmer’s year, young Manny impulsively bustles his 500 cows onto buses for an end-of-school excursion to Niagara Falls. Anyone who’s taken a field trip with large groups of third-graders will know what to expect. Reluctant at first, the bovine brigade soon gets into the spirit of things, laughing hysterically at silly verses of “Old MacDonald,” horsing around (so to speak) on the buses and piling out at a roadside stop for snacks and sodas. The last activity results in a massive cowtastrophe, as the long ride ends next to “the world’s largest faucet,” and not even Niagara’s toilet facilities turn out to be quite up to handling 500 cross-legged vacationers at once. Becker illustrates the outing in light, sketchy views of rambunctious revelers thundering hither and yon on two legs, chattering and trading hilarious comments. Further disaster looms after the herd is let loose in the gift shop, but all ends happily with a smooooooth ride back to home pastures. Easily the most memorable ruminant retreat since David Kirby and Allen Woodman’s The Cows Are Going To Paris (1991), illustrated by Chris Demarest. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-054152-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ZATHURA

A trite, knock-off sequel to Jumanji (1981). The “Jumanji” box distracts Walter Budwing away from beating up on his little brother Danny, but it’s Danny who discovers the Zathura board inside—and in no time, Earth is far behind, a meteor has smashed through the roof, and a reptilian Zyborg pirate is crawling through the hole. Each throw of the dice brings an ominous new development, portrayed in grainy, penciled freeze frames featuring sculptured-looking figures in constricted, almost claustrophobic settings. The angles of view are, as always, wonderfully dramatic, but not only is much of the finer detail that contributed to Jumanji’s astonishing realism missing, the spectacular damage being done to the Budwings’ house as the game progresses is, by and large, only glimpsed around the picture edges. Naturally, having had his bacon repeatedly saved by his younger sibling’s quick thinking, once Walter falls through a black hole to a time preceding the game’s start, his attitude toward Danny undergoes a sudden, radical transformation. Van Allsburg’s imagination usually soars right along with his accomplished art—but here, both are just running in place. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-25396-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more