Not the most satisfying, accurate, or entertaining entrée to climate change.



“Chicken Little” for the environmentally aware.

When Loony Little feels a drop of water hit the top of her head, she wails, “The polar ice cap is melting! I must go tell the Polar Bear Queen!” She meets a dovekie, a puffin, and an arctic hare along the way, several commenting about the effect: “the sea will rise, and my den might flood!” But when the group meets Sealy Sally, they rethink meeting the Polar Bear Queen, who recently ate Sealy Sally’s cousin. Foxy Loxy offers to safely escort them, but Loony Little puts paid to his nefarious plan when she stumbles across the sign pointing to his den. A well-aimed piece of ice convinces Foxy Loxy the group is right, and he takes the news to the Polar Bear Queen…who promptly solves a more immediately pressing need than a melting ice cap. The four friends head off across the ice dolefully wondering what they can do. “It’s up to us to find out,” says Loony Little. “All of us.” Backmatter explains climate change and the greenhouse effect, gives some ideas for ways kids can help—though many are either educational/research-based or work-intensive (grow a garden, plant trees)—and provides additional info about each of the animals. The textured paintings don’t always match this information, often showing the loon on solid surfaces standing upright as a goose would, which is physically impossible.

Not the most satisfying, accurate, or entertaining entrée to climate change. (resources) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62354-117-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.


Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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