Young children will relate to Rory’s dilemma and respond to the adorable illustrations, but non-native readers will struggle...

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RORY THE RABBIT

When Rory the rabbit discovers he’s different from his rabbit friends, he feels self-conscious and decides to find another tribe.

Unlike many other bilingual picture books that offer side-by-side text, the story unfolds in Simplified Chinese with English text at the back paired to thumbnail illustrations, making it difficult to compare the translation. Like all the other rabbits, Rory “poops next to the snakeweed,” eats grass, and plays hide-and-seek. One day, he is shocked to discover his ears are much, much shorter than his friends’. Afraid they’ll “look down on him,” Rory decides not to be a rabbit anymore. First he joins a pack of dogs. But his short, bushy tail makes him stand out. Then Rory joins a sleuth of bears. “Bear ears and bear tails are both short,” he reasons. However, when winter comes, he refuses to hibernate in the darkness of a hollowed-out tree. Predictably, a bear says to him, “You’d be a lot happier if you would just be yourself,” and Rory realizes how much he misses his rabbit friends. Although the storyline is didactic and some of the translation awkwardly literal (“He made himself up to look like a grey dog”), the delightful illustrations compensate. Double-page spreads showcase cute, playful critters rendered in muted yet vibrant tones characteristic of Chinese brush painting. Native Chinese speakers will find the hanyu pinyin (Mandarin phonetic transcriptions) useful in pronouncing new words.

Young children will relate to Rory’s dilemma and respond to the adorable illustrations, but non-native readers will struggle to use the book as a learning tool. (glossary) (Bilingual picture book. 5-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Candied Plums

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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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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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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