Very few readers will remain unmoved as that mother duck runs from grating to grating, trying to catch a glimpse of her...

LITTLE DUCKS GO

From the I Like To Read series

This tale of duckling rescue has a surprisingly large cast for a 32-page picture book.

There’s mother duck and her six ducklings, of course. There’s the boy who stops traffic when the mother duck runs across the street after the ducklings are washed down through a grating. There’s the middle-aged man who shows up with a net to fish the baby ducklings out of the storm drain. There’s a little red-haired girl—his daughter?—who holds the ducklings in a cardboard box as he drives the ducks to a nearby pond in his car. She waves to them as they swim safely away. Even a neighborhood dog stops by to provide moral support. Skeptics may roll their eyes at the idea that it takes a village to save a duck, but they will probably still be charmed by the pictures. It would be easy to believe that the energetic pen-and-watercolor illustrations were sketched from life as McCully followed ducks around her neighborhood. The story may seem too sweet to be true, even though it resembles a real-life incident in Montauk, N.Y., that was also the subject of Lucky Ducklings, by Eva Moore and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter (2013).

Very few readers will remain unmoved as that mother duck runs from grating to grating, trying to catch a glimpse of her children; everyone loves a duck. (Early reader. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2941-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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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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