A story that sacrifices facts for drama about creatures that have lived on Earth since the dinosaurs (a fact readers won’t...


A picture book that presents some information about crocodiles.

The book begins: “If there’s one thing you should know about crocodiles, it’s that they’re really scary.” And that does crocodiles a huge disservice. While the story does present some crocodile facts—crocodile mothers build nests of leaves and lay between 40 and 60 eggs; crocodiles don’t need to eat that often—the bulk of the story focuses on how crocodiles sneak up on their prey and eat them. Author Jenkins’ tone is conversational and droll, but the dry humor doesn’t outweigh the story’s fearmongering (“waiting for something—or even somebody—to come down to drink”). It’s hard to know what purpose this serves, other than developing in readers a fear of the natural world. Kitamura’s mixed-media illustrations, featuring large, toothy crocodiles that sprawl, side-to, across double-page spreads, are largely redundant. Sometimes the crocodile faces left, sometimes right. The backmatter offers additional information: There are 16 kinds of crocodiles; the crocodiles featured in the book are saltwater crocodiles. As this is not relayed in the story itself, readers may feel some confusion with basic facts: Do all kinds build nests out of leaves? Do they all lay 40 to 60 eggs? “More Information” lists all of two websites, one last updated in 2012.

A story that sacrifices facts for drama about creatures that have lived on Earth since the dinosaurs (a fact readers won’t find in this book). (index) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7538-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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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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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...


A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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