Inquisitive, informed and lyrical; an intriguing extension to hibernation classics.

EAT LIKE A BEAR

With a subject not quite as underappreciated as their previous book’s (Vulture View, 2007) but giving it just as stunning treatment, Sayre and Jenkins follow a bear’s eating habits throughout the year.

A grizzled, lumbering bear wakes up in the springtime. What is there to eat? The bear sniffs the air. Crunches a few dandelions. Pause. “With long, strong claws, / dig in. Dig down. / Paw and claw and pull. / Find … // … ants! / Chew them, / sour and squirming. / Lick your lips.” As the months go by, bears eat many different types of food. Often thought to be powerful, top-of-the-food-chain predators, bears find that delicate berries and pine cones are tasty treats too. Sayre does not shy away from the carnivorous meals, but gruesome details happen off the page. Jenkins creates incredible scenery full of majestic mountains, crisp streams and a sublimely textured bear. (The bear’s fuzzy coat is created with handmade fig-bark paper—a fruit, which given the opportunity, a bear would likely love to munch!) Key food-finding action words such as drink, search, forage, hunt, gather and eat lead up to perhaps the most important one of all: prepare. The bear, full from months of feasting, settles down into a warm, cozy den.

Inquisitive, informed and lyrical; an intriguing extension to hibernation classics. (appended facts, author’s note) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9039-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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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 charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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