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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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. 29, 2018

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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.


Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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