“Yummy” may be highly subjective, but friendship is transcendent.

I REALLY LIKE SLOP!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

“Pigs really, really, really, really, really like slop!”

In fact, “eating slop is part of pig culture,” so when Gerald the elephant turns up his trunk at best friend Piggie’s reeking, green bowlful (“The flies are how you know it is ripe!”), she takes it very personally. Seeing her devastation, Gerald steels himself to “try a small taste,” using his trunk to transfer a tiny globule to a very reluctant tongue. A comedic four-page sequence ensues, in which Gerald’s disgust is dramatized with very un-elephantlike coloration, contortions, and many repetitions of “Urk!” (Turns out old shoes are the secret ingredient.) Willems exploits his audience’s familiarity with the beloved characters to deliver a humorous update of Green Eggs and Ham, combining it with a message about not just friendship and trying new things, but cross-cultural understanding. With cultural awareness an ever more prominent element of school curricula, it’s likely kids will understand it immediately. Picky eaters will see themselves in Gerald, and they will appreciate his bravery and generosity of spirit. Once he’s tasted it, Gerald confesses that he does not particularly like slop, but he’s glad he tried it: “Because I really like you,” he tells a pleased Piggie.

“Yummy” may be highly subjective, but friendship is transcendent. (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2262-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself.

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THE DAY YOU BEGIN

School-age children encounter and overcome feelings of difference from their peers in the latest picture book from Woodson.

This nonlinear story centers on Angelina, with big curly hair and brown skin, as she begins the school year with a class share-out of summer travels. Text and illustrations effectively work together to convey her feelings of otherness as she reflects on her own summer spent at home: “What good is this / when others were flying,” she ponders while leaning out her city window forlornly watching birds fly past to seemingly faraway places. López’s incorporation of a ruler for a door, table, and tree into the illustrations creatively extends the metaphor of measuring up to others. Three other children—Rigoberto, a recent immigrant from Venezuela; a presumably Korean girl with her “too strange” lunch of kimchi, meat, and rice; and a lonely white boy in what seems to be a suburb—experience more-direct teasing for their outsider status. A bright jewel-toned palette and clever details, including a literal reflection of a better future, reveal hope and pride in spite of the taunting. This reassuring, lyrical book feels like a big hug from a wise aunt as she imparts the wisdom of the world in order to calm trepidatious young children: One of these things is not like the other, and that is actually what makes all the difference.

A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-24653-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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