This brief, exquisite overview may well have readers wishing for a sequel—or consulting reference books to find out more...

A TOWER OF GIRAFFES

ANIMALS IN GROUPS

From a gaggle of geese to an ostentation of peacocks, a gathering of collective nouns.

A brief forward introduces the idea that all animals “have varied social lives, family systems, and living situations,” ending with the note that “Maybe animals aren’t too different from people, actually.” Indeed, as each animal group is highlighted, readers learn that koalas are mostly solitary, penguins “love being together,” and female giraffes “make friends and avoid the giraffes they don’t get along with.” The tone is conversational and sometimes witty. The art is spectacular: exquisite pen-and-ink drawings that capture collective animal personalities, filled with either masterful watercolor washes or carefully selected scraps of fabric and wallpaper. Some feathers have found their ways onto the birds, too. The drollest spread features sheep, gazing blandly at the reader, their coats showing patterned knits, some of which appear to unravel off the page. The text mentions how, when threatened, they will “run swiftly in a wild and woolly whirlwind.” The sole disappointment is the lack of a solid ending to the book, especially considering the strong preface. After learning about the peacock’s loud call, readers turn the page to animal-adorned endpapers.

This brief, exquisite overview may well have readers wishing for a sequel—or consulting reference books to find out more collective nouns. (Informational picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58089-707-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 32

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

more