As naps go, this is about as strenuous—and as funny—as it gets.

I WILL TAKE A NAP!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Poor Gerald the elephant—all he wants is to take a nap.

A bleary-eyed Gerald blinks out at readers from the cover, blanket and Knuffle bunny tucked in his arms. Piggie’s head pokes into the frame from the side at a 90-degree angle, hinting at the disruption to come. Inside, “I am tired,” Gerald announces. “And cranky. // I am going to take a nap.” Those declarations set off a characteristically hilarious encounter between the fussbudget elephant and his porcine pal. He spreads out his mat, lies down…and in marches Piggie, hollering, “GERALD!” Gerald explodes from slumber in alarm. Readers will not find it at all surprising, though they will find it funny, that pretty soon Gerald’s cranky mood spreads to Piggie, who decides that she will take a nap, too: “SNORE! / SNORE! SNORE! SNORE!” Several pages later, the stertorous swine wakes up, rested and smiling. “How are you enjoying your nap, Gerald?” Beside himself, the elephant rages that he is “NOT napping!”—but if he’s not napping, then how come Piggie is floating? And endowed with a turnip-head? Careful readers will have noticed the change in background color that cues this extended dream sequence—and they may also find themselves wondering whether Gerald could possibly be as rested as he seems when he really wakes up.

As naps go, this is about as strenuous—and as funny—as it gets. (Early reader. 3-9)

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4847-1630-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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Hee haw.

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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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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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