A valuable ecological message, deftly delivered. Incandescent.

READ REVIEW

PANDORA

A gentle fox finds a friend in a desolate world.

Pandora the fox, who wears a simple blue dress, stands resolutely in the middle of a heaping pile of trash: mattress, bird cage, bicycle wheel, old Victrola, etc. She lives alone “in a land of broken things.” The landscape has a sepia tint, but there are pops of color inside Pandora’s home, where she repairs found articles. One day, outside her window, a bird falls from the sky. It’s broken too, but Pandora knows how to fix it. She makes it snug in a box full of shavings and watches over it. As the days go by, the bird grows stronger. He hops, then flies short distances, always returning to Pandora and his box at night. Until one day he doesn’t, and all that’s left is his nest inside the box. Pandora fears her heart will break. But day by day, from the nest of twigs, trees and flowers and leaves grow, covering the landscape. One morning, Pandora awakens to the sound of bird song and sees a land of green things. And guess who comes back? Turnbull’s beautiful pictures are worth the proverbial thousand words; she wisely keeps the text to a minimum. Her soft, spacious drawings judiciously vary perspective and composition to great effect. Pandora alone in her bed in the upper left of a double-page spread with the empty box in the bottom right says everything.

A valuable ecological message, deftly delivered. Incandescent. (Picture book. 3-9)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-94733-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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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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