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ROBINS!

HOW THEY GROW UP

Anthropomorphic but basically sound and as infectious as the ubiquitous bird’s own “Cheerily-cheerily, cheerily-cheerup,...

Two young robins (“robin teenagers!”) chattily describe their first spring and fall.

Inspired by the appearance of a nest built atop a hoe in her garden shed, Christelow creates a pair of feathered narrators who present their life story—or the first part, at least. That begins in early spring with the arrival of Dad, who stakes out a territory in preparation for the later appearance of Mom. Subsequent nesting, hatching, and fledging occur in due order—with the consumption of “fourteen feet of worms” in the first two weeks alone (“Regurgitated worms! Yum!”). They also lose two sibs to a squirrel and a hawk, practice flying, watch parents and other members of the flock to learn about personal care as well as hazards and food sources, and finally molt and migrate south. In keeping with the informal tone, the author places loosely drawn animal figures in a mix of large single or smaller sequential panels, or sometimes just out on the open page with text enclosed in dialogue balloons. Aside from one poorly placed comment that may leave readers with the impression that Dad fertilized the eggs after they were laid, the natural history is accurate. A closing Q-and-A fills in more detail, including the salient fact that not all robins are migratory.

Anthropomorphic but basically sound and as infectious as the ubiquitous bird’s own “Cheerily-cheerily, cheerily-cheerup, cheerup!” (author’s note, glossary, sources) (Informational picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-44289-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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ADA TWIST AND THE PERILOUS PANTS

From the Questioneers series , Vol. 2

Adventure, humor, and smart, likable characters make for a winning chapter book.

Ada Twist’s incessant stream of questions leads to answers that help solve a neighborhood crisis.

Ada conducts experiments at home to answer questions such as, why does Mom’s coffee smell stronger than Dad’s coffee? Each answer leads to another question, another hypothesis, and another experiment, which is how she goes from collecting data on backyard birds for a citizen-science project to helping Rosie Revere figure out how to get her uncle Ned down from the sky, where his helium-filled “perilous pants” are keeping him afloat. The Questioneers—Rosie the engineer, Iggy Peck the architect, and Ada the scientist—work together, asking questions like scientists. Armed with knowledge (of molecules and air pressure, force and temperature) but more importantly, with curiosity, Ada works out a solution. Ada is a recognizable, three-dimensional girl in this delightfully silly chapter book: tirelessly curious and determined yet easily excited and still learning to express herself. If science concepts aren’t completely clear in this romp, relationships and emotions certainly are. In playful full- and half-page illustrations that break up the text, Ada is black with Afro-textured hair; Rosie and Iggy are white. A closing section on citizen science may inspire readers to get involved in science too; on the other hand, the “Ode to a Gas!” may just puzzle them. Other backmatter topics include the importance of bird study and the threat palm-oil use poses to rainforests.

Adventure, humor, and smart, likable characters make for a winning chapter book. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3422-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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. 28, 2018

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