A charming, sensible tale for audiences young and old.

QUEEN PANDA CAN'T SLEEP

Queen Panda has been awake for days, and her exhausted subjects are desperate to find a way to make their grouchy monarch fall asleep.

Since she is unable to fall asleep, Queen Panda insists that her servants stay awake as well: The tailors sew by moonlight, the cook prepares rice cakes 24/7, and the butler keeps cleaning all night long. Exhausted, the royal adviser pens a decree, promising “a bag of Chinese pearls” to whomever can lull the queen into slumber. Visitors arrive from around the world, and each of them tries a different trick: A Mongolian shepherd suggests that the queen count his sheep, a Bengali storyteller tells her “the world’s most boring story,” a Parisian diva sings her a lullaby…but nothing seems to work. Will the queen ever fall asleep? The tone of Isern’s narrative is reminiscent of a folktale, especially the value-based ending (after a day of honest work, the queen falls asleep easily). Ruiz Johnson’s rich illustrations are populated with anthropomorphic animals and display a Chinese influence, particularly in the clothes the characters wear, Queen Panda’s palace, and depictions of flowers and the bamboo in the background. Text and illustrations work together seamlessly, resulting in subtle humor and wordplay that do not escape readers—the Mongolian shepherd, for instance, is a wolf, and the Bengali storyteller is a tiger.

A charming, sensible tale for audiences young and old. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63592-095-6

Page Count: 36

Publisher: StarBerry Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 32

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...

GRUMPY MONKEY

It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

more