Beautiful.

READ REVIEW

WATERSONG

A red fox seeks shelter as a rainstorm builds in intensity.

As the rain begins with a “drip drop,” the fox encounters other creatures, each moving through the pond and forest, finding its own niche or hiding place. The text, in the aptly named Brioso typeface, is scattered across double-page spreads in varying sizes and strengths appropriate to the force of the storm. McCanna’s carefully chosen words are nearly all onomatopoeia, a cacophony of water sounds that resonates on tongue and ear, demanding to be read aloud, moving from “pitter patter” through “gurgle burble” and all the way to “slap and slam,” before finally calming down with “whoosh sigh.” When the rain ends, the syntax changes to verbal commands, exhortations to “sprout” and “sparkle” and “glow.” Text and illustrations weave an interconnected, interdependent tale. There is no mention of the fox or the setting in the text. The creatures and their actions are for readers to discover in Smythe’s brightly hued, digitally finished watercolor illustrations. Frogs and ducks, an owl, snails, a worm, a mouse, and more run, splash, and fly. Hiding eyes watch from behind reeds, mushrooms, and lily pads as the wind whips leaves and branches and trees crash. In the aftermath of the storm, there’s sunshine, a rainbow, and a young fox family. Backmatter introduces such concepts as ecosystems and the water cycle.

Beautiful. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6881-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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