An enjoyable crafty excursion.

IF YOU WANT TO KNIT SOME MITTENS

Colorful mittens require 18 steps of preparation, but they are a toasty warm reward.

A redheaded, pale-skinned, freckled kid and an older, bearded figure with the same coloring are at an apple stand when the kid spots a sheep—and home they all go in their pickup truck. The sheep spends the winter in a cozy red barn with a pig and a hen, playing games and snuggling under a blanket. Spring brings a shearing, followed by cleaning, carding, and spinning. By now the process for crafting a pair of mittens is up to step No. 8, which is selecting a color to dye the yarn. This requires planting and tending marigolds, the chosen color source. And this requires a long wait. Dyeing the wool, knitting the mittens, and enjoying the winter are the very enjoyable results. The sprightly, colorful illustrations portray a smiley kid and equally happy animal friends who sip drinks, jump rope, and go downhill skiing and sledding. (There is a disclaimer on the copyright page concerning any injuries that might occur should readers try this with their own sheep.) The notably helpful sheep at the end sports its own matching hat, complete with pompom. While the actual knitting is confined to a couple sentences, the author does show that the sheep-to-mittens hands-on process involves many steps. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An enjoyable crafty excursion. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62979-564-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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