Stunningly contemporary and amazingly timeless.


An Inuk girl learns lessons in beauty and friendship from an unexpected source.

One day, while crunching along the hard snow with her grandmother, Aggataa spies a raven. But instead of reacting with awe, she says “it’s ugly” and thinks it “looks like it slept in its coat.” Despite Aggataa’s wish for the raven to fly away, it stays all winter, “hop[ping] along behind her” whenever she walks to grandmother’s hut. Aggataa begins to warm to it. When spring returns the raven leaves, and although other birds arrive for the summer, the raven does not. Before long Aggataa observes “long Vs of geese flying south,” and with “no more birds” around, the coming winter promises to be lonely. Only the “Crah” of a particular raven can hope to lift her spirits. Kusugak’s quiet narrative is deeply layered. While the primary narrative revolves around Aggataa’s interaction with the raven and other birds, readers will notice equally poignant threads of story in the changing of seasons, life in the Arctic, and within the multigenerational relationship between Aggataa and her grandmother. Additionally, inclusion of both Inuktitut words for the various birds Aggataa encounters and the onomatopoeic sounds they make creates a wonderful read-aloud. Qappik’s realistic, soft-toned illustrations are rich in their own right. Images of Aggataa and her grandmother feel like snapshots from a family photo album while the detailed depictions of the birds could exist in any ornithological field guide. Both author and illustrator are Inuit.

Stunningly contemporary and amazingly timeless. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-418-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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