A salubrious object lesson of playing for playing’s sake.


The story of a pig, perhaps a tad delusional but all guns and going for Olympic gold.

Jamieson’s young porker, Boomer, is the first pig to compete in the history of the Animal Olympics. He’s a charger—“Hard work and practice make an Olympic champion”—but still a pig: not as strong as the elephant, as speedy as the cheetah or as brawny as the gorilla. A mean-spirited reporter tries to diminish his hopes, yet Boomer can only see gold dancing before his eyes. And they are wonderful eyes, enormously expressive in his great pig head as he proceeds to get trounced in every event. The reporter needles Boomer after every loss, and Boomer finally snaps when his cannonball fails to impress the diving judges: “Who made you the boss? No fair! Lawsuit, buddy!” He quits. But his mother tells him how proud she is, and he returns for a slam-bang finale. Hope springs eternal; it’s not winning, but how you play the game; you can’t win them all. True, but Boomer makes such a hash of each contest, perhaps it is best just to say that he is a good sport, and good sports make sports good. Though the story doesn’t turn any new ground, Jamieson’s affective artwork, with its brio and dash, endows Boomer with an attractive personality, no matter his flaws.

A salubrious object lesson of playing for playing’s sake. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: July 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3536-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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