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waiting review

Waiting Description

From School Library JournalPreS-K—Five toys sit on a windowsill, each waiting for something. There's an owl with spots waiting for the moon, a pig with the umbrella waiting for the rain, a bear with a kite waiting for the wind, and a puppy on a sled waiting for the snow. And then there's a "rabbit with stars," content to simply look out the window. With an economy of words and gently repeating patterns, the text informs readers about the emotional ups and downs of this tiny band of friends: what makes them happy (getting what they've waited for), what makes them sad (when one of them goes away), and what surprises them (gifts, visitors, new friends.) Along with happiness and friendship, there are small moments of grief, anxiety, and existential wonder—all thoughtfully and authentically depicted with childlike honesty and optimism. On thick, creamy pages, Henkes uses brown ink with touches of watercolor and colored pencil in muted shades of pink, green, and blue to depict the softly rounded figures, shown small before the expanse of the four-paned window. Henkes varies the compositions with vignettes and a four-page wordless sequence showing the beautiful (a rainbow, fireworks) and sometimes scary (lightning) sights that the toys observe from the vantage point of their windowsill. The careful placement of the text and images establishes a leisurely pace, encouraging readers and listeners to slow down, examine the pictures, and discuss. Are these sentient little beings or are they moved and posed by an unseen child? Henkes leaves it up to readers to determine. VERDICT Waiting further cements Henkes's place alongside picture book legends like Margaret Wise Brown, Crockett Johnson, and Ruth Krauss, through his lyrical text, uncluttered yet wondrously expressive illustrations, and utmost respect for the emotional life of young children.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal

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