Hilarious. How will Yam and Donkey top this? (Picture book. 5-8)

YOU LOVES EWE!

From the Yam and Donkey series

Ewe will love it! (You will too.)

Bell introduces readers to a humorous trio: the studious, bespectacled Yam, the slow-witted Donkey, and the titular, and mostly silent, Ewe. Donkey kicks off the foolishness in initially mistaking the anthropomorphic tuber and the female sheep for fellow donkeys. When Yam corrects these errors and explains that “this is Ewe,” the snowball of wordplay begins its long descent down the hill of wackiness. Along the way, readers learn what a homonym is. Bell fits a lot into the story, making good use of speech bubbles and sequential panels across spreads of the picture book. She also keeps the humor interlaced with moments of learning that play well with the page turns. The artwork is bold, with thick, black lines and bright, simple colors, so it will play well to the back of a storytime room or classroom. Some adults may find the multiple voices to be a challenge as a solo reader, but it’s well worth the effort, as the combination of language and images will have young readers in fits of giggles. The artwork beautifully conveys the zany hijinks. Following the pupils in Donkey’s googly eyes as it thinks about each new concept is a silly joy in itself.

Hilarious. How will Yam and Donkey top this? (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-52611-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Waiting for Godot imagined for the playground population’s sensibilities.

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THE ROCK FROM THE SKY

If Samuel Beckett had written an early reader, it might look something like this one.

In the first of five chapters, Klassen places his now-familiar turtle and armadillo (wearing bowler hats) on a minimalist gray/green landscape with one flower and—on the facing page—one plant. Personalities are revealed through occasional, slow movement across the gutter together with color-coded dialogue that feels as if it is being invented in the moment, sans script. Turtle is inflexible, not wanting to relocate, even when Armadillo moves farther away after a bad feeling about the space. It is only when Snake (sporting a beret) appears near the mammal that Turtle joins them—just in time: A huge asteroid falls on the vacated spot. Readers have watched it coming, suspense effectively building as they turn the pages. In subsequent episodes, Armadillo attempts to be helpful; miscommunication abounds; and Turtle is stubborn, proud, and jealous of the unspeaking snake, now near the rock: “I see how it is. Just enough room for two.” Turtle playing the martyr: “Maybe I will never come back.” As daylight turns into a striking, rose-tinged sunset and then a starlit evening, a life-zapping extraterrestrial (created previously in Armadillo’s futuristic forest fantasy) stalks Turtle. At the last minute, a second asteroid annihilates the creature. Klassen’s animals react to their seemingly absurd—but never tragic—universe with characteristically subtle, humorous postures and eye maneuvers. The weirdness of it all exerts its own attractive force, drawing readers back to it to wonder and ponder.

Waiting for Godot imagined for the playground population’s sensibilities. (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1562-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you

THE THANK YOU BOOK

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Piggie is “one lucky pig,” and she’s determined to make sure she thanks “everyone who is important to” her in this, the final Elephant & Piggie book.

Gerald is sure his friend will forget someone—“someone important”—but Piggie assures him, “It will be a THANK-O-RAMA!” Piggie proceeds to thank the Squirrels for their great ideas, Snake for playing ball, and the Pigeon “for never giving up.” Piggie thanks and thanks: “I am a thanking machine!” She thanks character after character, even the Flies (“Any time, dude!”), as Gerald continues to interject that she’ll forget “someone VERY important.” Finally Piggie runs out of thanks, and by this time Gerald is steamed. “I goofed,” Piggie says in itty-bitty type, before lavishing thanks on Gerald. But that’s not whom Piggie forgot to thank! A classic Willems tantrum later, Gerald reveals the “someone important”: “Our reader.” Of course. “We could not be ‘us’ without you,” says Gerald, earnestly looking out from the page, and Piggie chimes in, “You are the best!” As Elephant & Piggie books go, this isn’t one of the strongest, but it is a validating valediction to fans of the two characters, who have won Willems two Geisel Medals and five Honors. Yes, Gerald and Piggie have ushered countless readers into literacy, but as they rightly note, reading is a collaborative act.

Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you . (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7828-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2016

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