Sturdy and well-put-together nature writing for younger readers.

WAITING FOR ICE

Markle provides an uncommon look at polar bears, the largest hunters on land, in this narrative that follows an orphaned cub barely old enough to survive on her own.

Trapped on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Sea, waiting late into the fall for the annual floating pack ice to form, she and other polar bears subsist on the few animals they can find—typically only birds and walruses, as a note on global warming explains at the back. No big gestures or overt drama about the effects of climate change here, but a focused, simple look at how polar bears survive during so much of the year, when there’s no ice to help them in their hunt for seals in the Arctic waters. Marks’ realistic watercolor-and-pencil illustrations in blues and grays show a spare landscape and just enough detail to link the bear cub with the text. Bright spots of red on a walrus calf captured and killed by an older bear and on the dead bird found by the cub are subtle reminders that the bears are predators and carnivores. The language is straightforward, simple and clear, offering only the hope that the cub will survive the winter. An author’s note, polar bear facts, sources for more information and a discussion of global warming provide extensions to the story.

Sturdy and well-put-together nature writing for younger readers. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58089-255-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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