You can only say, "Oh, the poor pony!" so many times.

THE LOST AND FOUND PONY

A small pony recounts his melodramatic life.

The nameless pony is first given to a little girl on her birthday. They compete over fences and win, until they try a jump that is "just too high." The girl falls off, and her angry parents sell the pony to a circus, where for years he partners with a dwarf in a clown act. When the circus disbands, the pony, now old, thin and pathetic, is sold at auction. His original little girl, now grown, happens to be at the same auction. She recognizes him, and, of course, they live happily ever after. At 48 text-heavy pages, it's long for a picture book, and the pace suffers accordingly—several scenes, such as the opening with the pony and his dam in a field, take up a lot of pages but don't move the story forward. The emotional tone often feels forced or misplaced, as when the circus fails because the audience "stayed home, playing video games," and the perspective seems more adult than child-friendly. Dockray's watercolor illustrations are better than her text. Animals and people are both lifelike and full of emotion, and she varies perspective and tone to convey changing moods. Overall, it's hard to see an appropriate audience for this one—small children won't sit through it, older ones will be bored.

You can only say, "Oh, the poor pony!" so many times. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: July 19, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-59259-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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Hee haw.

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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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