Flamboyant illustrations, unexpected adventures, and larger-than-life characters anchor this zany read-aloud.


A ravenous chicken leads the humans of the Ancient Times on a riotous romp.

Gladys begins her life as a dancing chicken living on a mountain with a Shepherd Boy, but her knack for being in the right place at the right time launches her on an incredible adventure. Touted as a magical wish-granting chicken, Gladys is spoiled, stolen, gifted, and bartered, until she finds her unlikely way home. Maybe Gladys is magical, maybe not, but either way, there’s no doubt that few chickens have led such an exciting life as she! Written with a cheeky tone, this offbeat story puts a modern spin on exaggerated archetypal characters known only by their capitalized titles, including a Traveling Merchant, the Brave Swordsman, the Learned Princess, and the Fearsome Pirate. An unnamed narrator adds humor that will appeal to elementary-age kids as well as adults. “Ancient Times” dialogue set on unfurling scrolls adds another comedic layer—as does Gladys’ penchant for “plooping” out an egg when faced with a surprise. Gladys’ rainbow-tinted plumage is set off by equally vibrant background hues. The painterly illustrations mix full- and double-page art with smaller, sequential artwork to achieve a cinematic effect. Melodramatic facial expressions and body language bring the characters, depicted with a range of skin tones, hair colors, and body types, to life. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Flamboyant illustrations, unexpected adventures, and larger-than-life characters anchor this zany read-aloud. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-32560-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.


Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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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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