Naturalists will be enthralled.

WHO WAS HERE?

DISCOVERING WILD ANIMAL TRACKS

Even the very young can identify animal tracks when it’s made this much fun.

Rhyming couplets that give clues to an animal’s identity and accompany illustrations of life-size (but admittedly not always realistically spaced) tracks and a few habitat clues encourage children to guess who made the print. “Round footprints left by two-toed feet / pressed into the sand in the desert heat. / This animal lives without water for days, / traveling under scorching sun rays.” Snaking (literally) between the prints is a long, S-shaped line. The turn of the page reveals the tracks’ makers—“A camel and a snake!”—and a paragraph of information about these animals (dromedary camels and horned vipers) follows. Other featured animals include black bear, gray wolves, moose, kangaroos, hippos, cattle egrets, beavers and a jaguar. Posada’s illustrations give great clues, and the answer pages mostly show both close-ups of the animals and at least one full-body image against the animals’ habitat. Backmatter encourages readers to use all the clues a track gives to identify the animal: number of toes, whether claws are visible or not, size of the track, how deeply impressed the track is, how far apart they’re spaced, etc. Tracks of nonfeatured animals in the background of the page challenge readers. The only thing that’s missing is an instructional note about using paper cups and plaster of Paris to cast found tracks.

Naturalists will be enthralled. (websites, further reading, answer key) (Informational picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4677-1871-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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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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Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...

GRUMPY MONKEY

It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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