THE THREE BILLY GOATS GRUFF

A classic fairy tale gets a facelift, with collage illustrations and a delightful repetitive phrase sure to rouse smiles. For these three brothers, the grass is greener on the other side of the bridge. So the littlest one sets out to cross the bridge, the home of the fearsome troll: “I’m a troll, from a deep dark hole, / My belly’s getting thinner. / I need to eat—and goat’s a treat— / So I’ll have you for my dinner.” As usual, the goat escapes, but only by extolling the virtues of his bigger brother. The second brother goes through the same scenario. Both brothers are now eating the greener grass on the other side of the bridge. But what excuse will the biggest goat give to the troll? There are no bigger goats than he. So he simply kicks him into next week and trots across the bridge. Using textured paper, Arenson (Manu and the Talking Fish, not reviewed, etc.) has created a wonderfully gruesome troll, complete with long nose topped with green wart, wild spiked hair, orange teeth, and purple toenails. He fairly pops off the page, but unfortunately, the rest of her collaged illustrations are comparatively two-dimensional—the bright pink, yellow, and blue seem flatter by contrast. Still, this perky, new—and less violent—edition will delight readers in their traditional quest for the greenest grass. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-84148-349-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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JOHN PHILIP DUCK

Edward and his father work for the Peabody Hotel in Memphis since the Depression has brought hard times for so many. On weekends they return to their farm in the hills and it’s there Edward finds John Philip Duck, named for the composer whose marches Edward listens to on the radio. Edward has to look after the scrawny duckling during the week, so he risks the ire of the hotel manager by taking John Philip with him. The expected occurs when Mr. Shutt finds the duckling. The blustery manager makes Edward a deal. If Edward can train John Philip to swim in the hotel fountain all day (and lure in more customers), Edward and the duck can stay. After much hard work, John Philip learns to stay put and Edward becomes the first Duck Master at the hotel. This half-imagined story of the first of the famous Peabody Hotel ducks is one of Polacco’s most charming efforts to date. Her signature illustrations are a bit brighter and full of the music of the march. An excellent read aloud for older crowds, but the ever-so-slightly anthropomorphic ducks will come across best shared one-on-one. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-399-24262-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2004

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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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