An imperfect yet captivating introduction to the ocean habitat.

READ REVIEW

THE SEA KNOWS

An introduction to the sea and some of the creatures that inhabit it.

Using the concepts of “sea” and “ocean” interchangeably, the book presents the ocean world in short rhythmic sentences that anthropomorphize it: “We are young. The sea is old. / The sea has secrets to unfold. / The sea knows.” Dynamic, colorful, semirealistic illustrations accompany the text. As the book progresses, readers find out what the sea knows: “The sea knows huge.” “The sea knows short.” “The sea knows bold.” “The sea knows bright.” “The sea knows wind, and waves that tower.” Sacrificing information for form, the evocative text provides no information alongside the illustrations to expand on these statements. For that, readers must rely on the backmatter. Since the intended audience is presumably not one familiar with marine life but rather one only just learning about it, reading the book becomes a cumbersome exercise of flipping back and forth between illustrations and backmatter. By doing this, readers find out “huge” is the blue whale; “short” are flat-topped crabs; “bold” are the clownfish that live among poisonous anemones; and “bright” is the luminescent comb jelly. The book has alluring illustrations and well-researched, interesting, and age-appropriate information; it is a pity the two were kept apart.

An imperfect yet captivating introduction to the ocean habitat. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3822-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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Everyone except die-hard Pig fans may skip this installment.

PIG THE TOURIST

From the Pig the Pug series

People who live in popular spots always complain when human tourists invade, but when the visitor is an unruly dog like Pig the pug, the situation gets even worse.

The big-eyed, ill-behaved pug runs roughshod over everyone: his owner, a brown-skinned woman who remains faceless; Trevor, his owner’s other dog, a big-eyed dachshund (every human and animal has large eyes in Blabey’s amusing illustrations); and all the other people, animals, works of art, and architectural marvels encountered in Pig’s world travels. Pig disrupts a Japanese geisha’s lunch; he angers some scantily clad Caribbean carnival dancers; he breaks the head off the Sphinx in Egypt; and he disturbs the queen’s tea and menaces her prize corgis, prompting the headline: “CHAOS AT THE PALACE: Queen shaken, not stirred.” (Young readers will likely be unmoved by this joke.) Yes, the rhyming text is occasionally clever and the pictures are full of action, but there is nothing original in this skewed presentation of a few of the world’s best-known, stereotypically presented tourist sites. Although Pig does get a well-deserved punishment for his rude behavior (piranhas attack when he least expects it), he still manages to get the last word when he stinks up first class with a very explicitly visual fart. The moral of the story? Leave Pig in the kennel when you travel.

Everyone except die-hard Pig fans may skip this installment. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-59339-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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