Claire and Leng have created a beautiful tale that reads like a fable to teach giving and kindness, with artwork that warms...

SHELTER

In the woods, families of animals awaken and are eating breakfast when the birds bring news of a winter storm approaching, which spurs them into action gathering food and supplies.

After a full day of gathering, the animals are all safe in their homes. The winds pick up as two strangers walk into the clearing, a tall one and a small one: two bears in need of shelter. The families inside watch as they come near, wondering who they are and what they want. They knock on each door, offering tea in exchange for warmth, food, light, but each family says they don’t have enough to spare and turns them away. They plan to hunker down near a hill when they hear Little Fox behind them. He brings them a lantern, and they’re grateful for the kindness as the snow falls, soon covering the woods. Little Fox’s kindness is returned when danger comes to the fox den, and his family is spared a terrible fate thanks to the strangers in need. Claire’s prose is rhythmic and gentle, with enjoyable repetition and memorable lines that lend themselves to being read aloud. Leng’s earth-toned watercolors and light strokes of pen and ink have a wonderful messiness about them, and her clothed, anthropomorphic animals are drawn more gesturally than the rounded cartoony look found in many picture books.

Claire and Leng have created a beautiful tale that reads like a fable to teach giving and kindness, with artwork that warms up as its characters do. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77138-927-3

Page Count: 42

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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 good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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