A goofy romp that will fit right in with elementary school science lessons.

WHAT FLOATS IN A MOAT?

Silly meets science in this title inspired by Archimedes’ principle.

Archie (get it?) the goat and Skinny the hen need to deliver three barrels of buttermilk to the queen—a pig who looks like she might have come from the pen of Steig himself—in her moated castle. Rejecting the drawbridge in the name of “Science!” they embark on a process of trial and error to float the barrels across the moat. While this may not be much of an elevator pitch, this story sure does make for a terrific picture-book read, due in large part to the hilarity of Cordell’s watercolor illustrations embellished with pen and ink. Archie first tries to float on a full barrel of buttermilk, but it sinks. Undeterred, he tells Skinny to drink the buttermilk from the second barrel. She does and, not so skinny any longer, heaves the empty barrel with Archie upon it into the water. This one does float, but unsteadily so. The third try is a charm as Skinny drains just half of its buttermilk, creating a seaworthy vessel. The queen pig is none too pleased to have five-sixths of her buttermilk in either the moat or the hen, but it was all “in the name of science,” explains the placid Archie as a bloated Skinny belches her affirmation.

A goofy romp that will fit right in with elementary school science lessons. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: July 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4169-9763-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2013

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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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