An oyster bed with but one oyster—maybe it should be called an oyster cot—and “friends” that make the word enemy sound...



Turns out that many sea creatures are as catty as the popular-student clique in every high school, but the oyster is much more than meets the eye.

“In the ocean on an oyster bed lived a lonely oyster,” writes Dunham. “His sea creature friends wanted to know / what he was doing all by himself down below,” a fair enough question, as an oyster bed should be fairly teeming with oysters. But these “friends” are not really curious anyway. They are more into being mean, expressing themselves in occasional couplets and sometimes straightforward cruelty. The angelfish: “You’re not as pretty as me.” And the jellyfish: “What can you do against others who prey?” The crab: “I use my claws to help me eat, / but you have neither arms nor feet.” A wise old sea turtle tells the others to back off, but Mr. Oyster is not defenseless. He has a refrain he pipes back to these bullies: “Don’t worry about me”—as if—“I’m making something BEAUTIFUL, you’ll see.” Well, of course the oyster is doing its nacreous thing to another one of his life’s little irritations, finally popping out a pearl that would have made Elizabeth Taylor swoon. Tuohy’s cartoons add little nuance to Dunham’s story.

An oyster bed with but one oyster—maybe it should be called an oyster cot—and “friends” that make the word enemy sound inviting? Go figure. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61254-967-5

Page Count: 27

Publisher: Brown Books Kids

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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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


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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