This is metafiction done very well; it’s actually three stories in one: Goldilocks’, Papa Bear’s, and of course, the one...

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PAPA BEAR'S PAGE FRIGHT

Fractured versions of familiar tales never seem to get old; they’re almost always funny, especially with a main character as hilariously abashed as this one.

The main player is ostensibly Goldilocks, but it’s really Papa Bear, who is the only one who doesn’t realize he’s in a book. Once he does, nerves get the best of him: After uttering his first line correctly, his worries become self-fulfilling when he sits on Baby Bear’s too-small chair, which of course smashes into smithereens, tumbling an embarrassed Papa to the floor. He flees the pages and dashes through other stories, Goldilocks and Baby Bear in hot pursuit, eventually to be drawn back by the smell of Mama’s porridge. Cheerful, bright illustrations utilize creative devices to clarify the action: Characters are able to see (and physically manipulate) the Narrator’s lines; the parts of the plot set in other books are signaled by illustrated page corners turning up or by showing an actual book opened up and Papa Bear romping through its illustrations.

This is metafiction done very well; it’s actually three stories in one: Goldilocks’, Papa Bear’s, and of course, the one read by the Narrator character. All will have children chortling. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4413-2598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peter Pauper Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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