Rocket’s fans should enjoy this book geared directly to children who, like their hero, are tackling the hard work of reading.

READ REVIEW

DROP IT, ROCKET!

From the Rocket series

The irresistible, black-and-white puppy named Rocket moves into the early-reader market following his wildly successful picture-book learning experiences, How Rocket Learned to Read (2010) and Rocket Writes a Story (2012), and a board book, Rocket’s Mighty Words (2013). 

This title, part of the Step into Reading series, sports a circular logo on the front with Rocket and his friend and mentor, a yellow bird, appealing to Rocket’s established fan base. In this simple story for children who are just beginning to read a few words on their own, Rocket finds several items and is told repeatedly by the yellow bird and other friends to “Drop it, Rocket.” The pup obeys until he finds a red boot, which he wants to keep. The stereotypical wise owl brings in a book as bait, solving the minor problem. Basic words are written on cards and added to a “word tree” at the beginning and ending, an obvious reading lesson that is also a perfect complement to Rocket’s earlier picture books. Perhaps due to the severely limited vocabulary imposed by the form, this story is less whimsical than Rocket’s earlier outings, but thanks to that limited vocabulary, it should become a go-to book for adults working with children just venturing into independent reading.

Rocket’s fans should enjoy this book geared directly to children who, like their hero, are tackling the hard work of reading. (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: July 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-37247-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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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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