At points, this book is hilariously funny, but for those who aren’t fans of wordplay, this might be a pun-ishing read.

ANIMALICIOUS

A QUIRKY ABC BOOK

The late author and her collaborators create, combine, and reimagine a batch of spirited new animals from A to Z.

Packed full of invented punny and portmanteau animalgamations such as the “kangarude,” a golden marsupial with tongue out and eyes narrowed, cavalierly kicking over the letter K, the book presents a bevy of oddball beasts to accompany each letter. Every critter has its own unorthodox name, look, or point of emphasis in the word, such as the blushing, naked “polar bare” or a “lobster” that lobs an L. Readers will smirk at many of the funny combinations, but the humor is hard-won, as deciphering the clever names and underlying meanings, while supremely satisfying, is also labor-intensive. Those with more sophisticated vocabularies may fully parse the names, but obscure references, such as the “macawbre,” a macaw dressed in a Poe-inspired coat, will likely fly right over many readers’ heads. Using the letters as props for their antics, wildly peculiar, primitively drawn animals dash across the page, setting a zany tone. The potent primary colors, scribbly, smudgy textures, and lack of outlines constraining the creatures all contribute to the free-wheeling feel. Boldt’s images, such as a “hippotomess” surrounded by melted ice-cream and fast food wrappers, give useful clues about how to interpret the animal’s name.

At points, this book is hilariously funny, but for those who aren’t fans of wordplay, this might be a pun-ishing read. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9205-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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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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A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers.

THE INFAMOUS RATSOS

From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 1

Two little rats decide to show the world how tough they are, with unpredictable results.

Louie and Ralphie Ratso want to be just like their single dad, Big Lou: tough! They know that “tough” means doing mean things to other animals, like stealing Chad Badgerton’s hat. Chad Badgerton is a big badger, so taking that hat from him proves that Louie and Ralphie are just as tough as they want to be. However, it turns out that Louie and Ralphie have just done a good deed instead of a bad one: Chad Badgerton had taken that hat from little Tiny Crawley, a mouse, so when Tiny reclaims it, they are celebrated for goodness rather than toughness. Sadly, every attempt Louie and Ralphie make at doing mean things somehow turns nice. What’s a little boy rat supposed to do to be tough? Plus, they worry about what their dad will say when he finds out how good they’ve been. But wait! Maybe their dad has some other ideas? LaReau keeps the action high and completely appropriate for readers embarking on chapter books. Each of the first six chapters features a new, failed attempt by Louie and Ralphie to be mean, and the final, seventh chapter resolves everything nicely. The humor springs from their foiled efforts and their reactions to their failures. Myers’ sprightly grayscale drawings capture action and characters and add humorous details, such as the Ratsos’ “unwelcome” mat.

A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7636-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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