THERE’S A BABIRUSA IN MY BATHTUB!

FACT AND FANCY ABOUT CURIOUS CREATURES

A baker’s dozen of exotic animals are introduced in this intriguing title. Organized alphabetically from babirusa to Tasmanian devil, each double-page spread features a poem, a short expository text, a “fabulous fact” and a striking painting that includes a hidden object or objects mentioned in the poem or text. The inconsistent tone of the poetry—sometimes fanciful, sometimes descriptive—may confuse young readers and listeners. Each poem is illustrated with a humorous vignette of the animal, often clothed. Animal lovers are better served by the wealth of fascinating facts provided in the exposition. They will come away with some idea of where these animals can be found, what they eat and their usual behavior. Maydak’s detailed paintings show each animal in its habitat. The end matter includes a variety of comprehension, phonics and vocabulary activities that only a teacher could love, but no sources or suggested further reading. This entry in the Sharing Nature with Children series tries to do too much. Purchase only where the pictures will be appreciated. (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-58469-117-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dawn Publications

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

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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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THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE

Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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