Adults who have been through the ordeal of a fixer-upper may appreciate the ending more than kids, but everyone will enjoy...

JACK

A new tale from dePaola is always a reason to cheer, and this riff on “Jack” tale variants will bring smiles.

In this cumulative folk tale, Jack lives on a tiny farm with his grandpa. He tells his grandpa that he wants new friends and to live in the city, and off he goes. Along the way, he encounters a series of animals that join him on the journey—11 to be exact. Chick, duck, goose, dog, frog, pig, cow, cat, sheep, horse and owl (and a crow that’s unmentioned in the text but nevertheless makes a lot of noise) parade along behind Jack to the king’s castle. When Jack requests a house in the city for him and his friends, the king says he has a perfect house, though it “might need some fixing up.” The decrepit, boarded-up building makes that quite an understatement, but Jack and company tackle the rehab with gusto. Voilà, a bright fuchsia house with a window for each of the animals. DePaola eschews a traditional happily-ever-after ending with tongue-in-cheek comments from an old man and old woman: He grumbles, “There goes the neighborhood.” And she chuckles, “It’s about time!” Repeated rubber stamps of each animal’s sound (and individualized colors) add zip (and noise) to dePaola’s signature style and palette.

Adults who have been through the ordeal of a fixer-upper may appreciate the ending more than kids, but everyone will enjoy the fun. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-16154-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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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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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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