Though a bit rough around the edges, this very personal story should engage animal-loving readers.

HONEY GIRL

THE HAWAIIAN MONK SEAL

Honey Girl is well-known in her habitat of the waters off northern Oahu.

Called monk seals because their loose neck skin resembles a monk’s cowl, most of these animals live near the uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, but some regularly live near the main Hawaiian Islands and they are designated the state mammal. Although her species is endangered (for many reasons listed in the fact-filled backmatter), Honey Girl has managed to live and bear many pups, so many that she is locally known as “Super Mom.” This book examines one period in her life when veterinarians operate on her after she is injured by a large fishhook that’s punctured her cheek and fishing line that’s been wrapped around her tongue. When she is finally released, scientists track her whereabouts, and a fascinating map is created and shown in the book. She continues to thrive and have other pups, even becoming a grandmother several years after the miracle operation that saves half her tongue. The text is sometimes awkward, concentrating on getting the story down more than on craft. The natural backgrounds, especially the intense blue waters, in the bright illustrations are striking, but the animals and people are not as accomplished.

Though a bit rough around the edges, this very personal story should engage animal-loving readers. (additional information, activities) (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62855-9217

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Arbordale Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

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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