Birds of a feather (along with a cantankerous gentleman and his pesky squirrels) flock together at this tropical destination.

Old Man Fookwire dips into a depression when his beloved feathered companions fly south. His impish squirrels take to the sky in makeshift machines (utilizing, in part, a pine cone and soda bottle) and follow the birds. After the squirrels call collect, Fookwire putters down the highway (at 12 mph) to join the birds and the pests. Once in Santa Vaca, he discovers the fiery coco, kiki and caramba birds and starts to paint them. Forgetting sunscreen and forgoing water, Mr. Fookwire turns tomato-red and suffers from heatstroke. The squirrels perform triage, fanning him with palm branches and dumping fluids into his parched mouth, before piling him into his sports car and driving him back north at record speeds. Fookwire's “Thooooooose daaaaaaarn squirrrrrels!” says it all about their love-hate relationship. Visual slapstick and a deadpan text combine with trademark Fookwire expressions (“great googly-moogly!”) to make this third Darn Squirrels outing a winner. Watercolor, gouache and colored-pencil spreads pepper the beach with individual grains of sand. The birds' flamboyance (one a bird-sized replica of the ornery old man) is the perfect complement to the sweltering heat.

Hysterical—again. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-67823-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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Hee haw.

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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


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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