Sure to worm its way into readers’ hearts.

THE WORM FAMILY HAS ITS PICTURE TAKEN

A warm, witty, wonderful worm tale.

When Mrs. Worm has the bright idea of taking a family portrait, her eldest daughter, Emma, is very excited. That feeling fades, however, when Emma worries that their picture won’t be special like those of her friends’ families. They can’t smile like the beavers since they don’t have teeth. They can’t style their hair to be fluffy like a cat’s since they don’t have hair. They can’t be colorful like a family of butterflies. Or can they? Emma comes up with a plan to deck her family out in wigs, clothes, and fake teeth, but then they just don’t look like themselves—as the muskrat photographer comically points out when he doesn’t even recognize them. Throughout, Stein’s expressive, sly, wobbly-lined art enhances the humor of Frank’s text with details that will delight readers, such as the worms’ use of piles of earth to blanket them as they sleep upon rooted carrots in their underground home or the worm parents’ use of a simple sling to carry the baby of the family. When the worm family sheds itself of Emma’s costuming, they come up with an ingenious plan to get “into a delightful pose only a worm family could make,” the illustration of which will surely bring smiles to readers’ faces. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 21.4% of actual size.)

Sure to worm its way into readers’ hearts. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12478-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Random

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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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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