Highlights a side to sharks not often found in picture books, but readers can find better, notably Surprising Sharks, by...



This tale of an anthropomorphic baby shark trying to find out who he is has shades of both “The Ugly Duckling” and Are You my Mother?

Within his egg case, Shark Baby is curious to know what kind of shark he is. When a storm rips the egg case from its kelp mooring, a tear opens up, allowing Shark Baby to peek out and ask each of the sea creatures he meets, “What are you?” (The ocean current moves him about.) But Shark Baby is not like any of these other sharks. In the end, his instincts serve him well, and identify him, when his egg case bursts in front of a hungry sea lion. Bersani’s illustrations combine realism with slightly personified sea creatures and bring the watery ocean world into readers’ homes, but they lack a key identifying the species in the backgrounds. Backmatter provides additional facts about sharks and egg cases and a comparison of six shark species by size, from the great white to the tiny pajama shark, whose size on the page precludes readers’ making out any details. Readers can also put their knowledge to use by answering some true/false questions and comparing/contrasting three shark species’ egg cases. Unfortunately, the ruler at the bottom of the page is obscured by a drawing of a chicken egg, which cuts off the cm/inch delineation. 

Highlights a side to sharks not often found in picture books, but readers can find better, notably Surprising Sharks, by Nicola Davies and illustrated by James Croft (2003). (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-60718-622-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sylvan Dell

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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. 29, 2018

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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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