BUILD, BEAVER, BUILD!

LIFE AT THE LONGEST BEAVER DAM

A young beaver kit grows up in a world in which beavers have lived for generations.

Markle introduces her subject when he's only 3 weeks old, "softball-sized." She follows his growth using like familiar comparisons and documents his changing activities as he begins to imitate his parents, to feed himself, and to contribute to the continued building of the dam and providing for the next generation. She smoothly weaves in details of beaver life: their dams and lodges, their food, their enemies, and their activities as the seasons change. This experienced and award-winning author’s engaging and informative text is not well-served by its packaging. The tantalizing subtitle is misleading, and the illustrations’ stylized wetlands and forests would be more appropriate background for an animated film than an informational picture book. The long beaver dam that is their home is identified only in a short author’s note in the backmatter; Markle doesn't use the superlative “longest.” The green of Canada's north woods is deep and dark, but these illustrations tend toward the cyan. The text is usually set in white on the dark images, appropriate for the nocturnal animal. Shelves that already include Glen Rounds’ classic Beaver (1999) and Jim Arnosky’s Beaver Pond, Moose Pond (2000) probably don’t need this, but it would complement other books about animal life cycles and includes helpful further research suggestions.

Disappointing. (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4677-4900-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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TIME FOR SCHOOL, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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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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