MY FRIEND IS SAD

From the Elephant & Piggie series

The master of offbeat whimsy for picture-book readers ventures into the early reader with typically silly and successful results. Willems introduces two friends, Gerald the Elephant and Piggie, who, in the tradition of early-reader partners, love each other despite (or perhaps because of) their gentle foibles. In My Friend Is Sad, Piggie observes a disconsolate Elephant and dresses up as a cowboy, a clown and a robot only to find that all Elephant really wants is her company. The companion title, Today I Will Fly (ISBN: 1-4231-0295-9), highlights Piggie’s determination to fly, her enthusiasm for the task undaunted by physiological reality and Elephant’s skepticism. Uncluttered pages feature the two main characters against clean white space, highlighting the artist’s characteristic command of body language; the text is entirely comprised of dialogue, rendered in softly colored word balloons (pink for Piggie, gray for Elephant). Beginning readers will delight in these genuinely funny stories, staying one step ahead of the increasingly frantic Elephant, who does not recognize his friend in costume, and rooting for Piggie’s aeronautic success. The masterful combination of early-reader convention and sly wit make this pair of pals one to celebrate. (Easy reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 1-4231-0297-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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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