This is less of an abecedary and more of an art lesson exploring the changing of shapes piece by piece. Give it an M for...



Is it possible for a mouse and the letter M to become friends?

The cover of the adorable mouse holding a cherry and sporting a plaid bow tie will be irresistible to youngsters. Mouse is enjoying his cherry when a large letter M with eyes and a mouth asks for a bite. Mouse reluctantly allows one bite. But, pronouncing it “Marvelous,” M wants more and eats it all. In return, M offers Mouse a nibble of itself. Mouse “Munches” and “Nibbles” M’s legs off until nothing is left of M but a Z. Feeling full, Mouse “Nods” off until a bolt of “Lightning” wakes the rodent up and transforms the Z into a L. But the former M is now “Lopsided” from all the chewing, so Mouse takes M’s broken pieces and puts it back together, making it “Magnificent” and “Magical” once again (though not without a few false starts that has it cycling through a few other letters). The truism of the story is that there is no Mouse without an M. The digital illustrations have the flair and charm of animation cels, and they rescue the oddball story. The well-crafted page design keeps readers guessing at what will happen next. Kids won’t care or notice that in this vignette Mouse interacts with only some alphabet letters: M, N, Z, L, R, C, U, H. Instead, they will be enamored by the appealing artwork.

This is less of an abecedary and more of an art lesson exploring the changing of shapes piece by piece. Give it an M for Mercurial. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-99636-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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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


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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