WHAT PETE ATE FROM A-Z

Pete is a dog of alphabetic appetites, who eats everything, from cousin Rocky’s accordion to a whole lot of yo-yos. What he will not eat, however, is his “Zug Zug Dog Grub (zip, zilch, zero.) Can you blame him?” Although the work dutifully features representations of each letter in cursive script as well as both upper- and lower-case Roman letters, this is clearly not your beginning alphabet book. Some of the letters are glossed with alliterative energy—for “H”: “He ate half (1/2) of my homework. But did Mrs. Hoogenschmidt believe me? HA! (Hardly.) Horrible dog.”—but others are illustrated so subtly that the reader loses touch with the theme. The typography has a baroque, expansive quality in keeping with Pete’s excesses, but unconventional capitalization and coloring muddy the alphabetical relationships further. The paintings carry Kalman’s (Next Stop Grand Central, 1998, etc.) signature zany energy, with Pete, a blond, bearded mutt, frequently portrayed with the remains of his unconventional diet hanging out of his mouth. The practice of using the alphabet as an organizing principle for a children’s book is a long and honored one, but this is an example of one of its pitfalls. While it begins with promise, it has no actual narrative and the reader loses energy by the time the 26th letter rolls around. For an equally fizzy celebration of doggy greed that manages to maintain its momentum, try this year’s Swollobog, by Alistair Taylor (p. 339). (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-23362-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE

Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

more