Fanciful—but factual where it matters.


Photographs, accompanied by a rhyming text, document the first summer of a young loon the author calls Moon.

Salas imagines the story of a young chick from a series of photos of loon chicks and their parents taken by Dayton, an environmental lawyer–turned–nature photographer. Her text, conveyed in loose quatrains, follows Moon from hatchling to first migration. Much of loon development is instinctive, the writer explains: “Every secret Moon needs, / she carries inside.” In fact, in Salas’ text, her body parts have actual agency. Moon is prompted to dive by her “heavy bones” and to fly by her wing feathers, but readers also see her parents teaching her—to feed and defend herself and even that flying is a possibility. Fran Hodgkins’ Little Loon, illustrated by Karel Hayes (2015), tells a similar story; Susan Vande Griek’s free-verse Loon, illustrated by Karen Reczuch (2011), provides more information. What sets this book apart are the sharp, clear photographs of the loons and their chicks, set on a digitally collaged background. The range of images chosen also reveals the white pines surrounding the loons’ lake and, in one case, a pair of human paddlers watching from a canoe. Full-bleed double-page spreads illustrate the climax as Moon begins to fly. The backmatter reveals “More Loon Secrets” and suggests selected sources for further information.

Fanciful—but factual where it matters. (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68134-158-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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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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