A gardening hullaballoo that uses its cacophony of chaos to an infinitely amusing end.

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A RUCKUS IN THE GARDEN

From the Adventures of Pettson and Findus series

It’s man (and cat!) vs. nature, with a distinct Swedish twist.

On a lovely spring morning old Pettson proposes a garden to his cat, Findus, who wears a beanie and overalls. They proceed to plant it that very day, and at first all is well. Then come Pettson’s chickens, ravenous for the worms that might be lurking beneath the soil. Once they have been contained, Pettson and Findus try planting a potato patch. That’s dug up by a neighbor’s escaped pig. A third planting is trampled most effectively by a neighbor’s cows. It finally takes the quick mind of Pettson and a paper bag to put things right. First published in Sweden in 1990, this text-heavy tale comforts readers even as Pettson’s frustration reaches a fever pitch. The charm of the writing has much to recommend it, but it’s the art that is the true star of the show. No matter how raucous or riotous Nordqvist’s illustrations become, there’s still room to include little Zen details, such as the chicken with its comb in a single hair roller or a pair of pups in a tree staring lovingly at the moon. Pettson and other humans appear to be white.

A gardening hullaballoo that uses its cacophony of chaos to an infinitely amusing end. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4311-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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