A wintry friendship story that cleverly conceals a how-to for conquering one’s fears and getting back up after snowy falls

READ REVIEW

TEACH YOUR GIRAFFE TO SKI

What do you do when your giraffe wants to ski?

As snow falls outside, the young protagonist sits uneasily inside a cozy chalet with a giraffe that has just decided to learn to ski. Though the child tries to convince the giraffe that making hot chocolate or snow giraffes would be preferable, the giraffe remains focused and heads straight for the slopes, our protagonist in hot pursuit with equipment in tow. Told in second person, this tongue-in-cheek, teach-your-giraffe-to-ski instruction manual offers a solid introduction to the basics of the sport, for humans too—ski positions, slope etiquette, etc. When at last the giraffe bombs down the largest mountain, what else must a good friend do but go after her? The giraffe’s fearlessness may resonate with some young enthusiasts eager to hit the slopes, while the child’s trepidation about conquering the “Big Scary Slope” will be familiar to many first-time skiers. In true picture-book fashion, the delightful, bright, cartoon-style illustrations expand upon exuberant text that takes turns instructing and cautioning this bold, headstrong mammal and her slightly more cautious owner through attempts, falls, and reassuring hugs. It’s never easy to learn something new; sometimes it helps to have a giraffe learn with you. The child has tan skin and straight, black hair.

A wintry friendship story that cleverly conceals a how-to for conquering one’s fears and getting back up after snowy falls . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8075-7767-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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