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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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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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.


Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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