This delightful narrative balances respect for tradition with inviting, accessible storytelling; a very well-executed debut...

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THE CHAMELEON THAT SAVED NOAH'S ARK

In this charming extension of a well-known Bible story, Noah, Na’ama, and the family must discover what chameleons feed on.

Translated from the Hebrew, the folk tale begins during the 40-day rainstorm as Noah and the family cheerfully brave the trying conditions. In a refreshing departure, Molchadsky chooses to highlight Noah’s wife, Na’ama, in a central role, departing from so many retellings that relegate everyone but Noah to the background. The visually and warmly surprising multiethnic family, representing many shades and skin colors, attempts to keep the matching animals happy and well-fed yet are befuzzled by the two chameleons, who stare mournfully but do not eat. The mystery commences, sending the family searching throughout the seemingly limitless ark for a suitable meal for the wasting chameleons. Only when they realize that the fruit bins are threatened by worms do they come to a solution: “with a flick and flash,” the chameleon takes care of both problems. Lightheartedly, Noah and Na’ama make sure to find space for even the worms to flourish, leaving readers to remember that “everything and everyone has a place under the sun.” Bergman’s folk-art–style paintings are colorful and textured, investing all the ark’s passengers with great personality—even those worms.

This delightful narrative balances respect for tradition with inviting, accessible storytelling; a very well-executed debut for children and an appealing addition to family reading time. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-99676-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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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