This gentle, lyrical celebration of the natural world will reward similarly observant readers.

READ REVIEW

WINTER IS COMING

Armed with a sketchbook and patience, a young girl watches animals from a platform in a tree.

With quiet appreciation, the narrator describes what she sees on visits made from September through late November to her special place on the edge of the woods. She watches a fox take the last apple from a tree. A bear mother “snuffles for food” with her cub. Honking Canada geese fly overhead. There are skunks, acorn woodpeckers, rabbits, chipmunks, a deer with still-spotted fawns and turkeys. One day the lucky girl even observes a lynx. “I stay quiet, quiet / to keep it here— / for a moment.” Even on the gray, cold day on which no animals come, the narrator sits patiently, her back to readers, steadily waiting and watching. LaMarche’s illustrations, done mostly in shades of orange and brown with acrylics, colored pencil and inks, beautifully and realistically portray the ever changing woods, trees, plants and animals. The girl’s appreciation for all she sees and hears is as evident in her face and body language as it is in the text. While not as obviously place-specific as the prolific author’s Desert Song, illustrated by Ed Young (2000), the flora and fauna are recognizably Californian—but the appeal will be universal.

This gentle, lyrical celebration of the natural world will reward similarly observant readers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7251-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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