A ray of sunshine—for readers and (most) squirrels.

GUESS WHAT!?

From the Unlimited Squirrels series , Vol. 4

The Unlimited Squirrels hit the beach—“squirrel-style."

When three squirrels stick their heads through the frame to say hello, Zoom Squirrel bursts out: “GUESS WHAT!?” Surprised, the three squirrels collapse in a heap. Zoom Squirrel reveals that they are “going to the beach in seven days.” The countdown continues day after day as Zoom Squirrel hypes their trip through song, dance, and bragging. But when Wonder Squirrel wonders what Zoom Squirrel will do at the beach, Zoom Squirrel’s excitement turns to nervousness. Zoom Squirrel doesn’t know what to do! When beach day finally comes, Zoom Squirrel’s pals show what they like to do: playing in the sand, playing with the beach ball, and playing by the water. Zoom Squirrel tries it all. Nothing works out. But what’s one “bad day” after a “great week” of anticipation? As with others in the series, Willems’ fourth entry reads like a variety show with one “BIG Story” followed by short one-offs. Excellent comedic timing, expressive cartoon characters, and corny jokes keep the tone light and fun. Color-coded speech bubbles, “emote-acorns,” and bolded words help support readers in their decoding. The metafictive ending will give them a sense of accomplishment. Series fans won’t encounter anything new besides the countdown, which cleverly helps reinforce the concept of time. The “Beach Day!” and “Research Rodent!” pages add nonfiction elements and direct readers to the series website for more information.

A ray of sunshine—for readers and (most) squirrels. (sheet music) (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-07093-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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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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